In Memory of GARIFUNA Singer Songwriter ANTOLIN / ANTHONY “Guifity” CLOTTER, Who Passed Away One Year Ago Today (February 1st)

 

Bronx, New York:  One year ago today (February 1st 2015), noted Garifuna Singer Songwriter Antolin Anthony “Guifity” Clotter passed away after fighting a long-term illness.  While interviewing his relatives, friends and musical colleagues at an informal wake at Guifity’s sister’s Bronx apartment; I was in awe upon learning that Mr. Clotter’s story is one of ambition, drive, determination and being in possession of a resourcefulness common to Immigrants coming to the United States.  Not only that but Mr. Clotter’s story is that of a Garifuna man with an inextinguishable flame of creativity that burned within him.  Guifity needed to express himself musically and he did so with emotion, style and artistic honesty.

Copyright 2016 by Teofilo Colon Jr. (a.k.a. “Tio Teo”).  All Rights Reserved. Telephone: (646) 961-3674.

Born on February 27th 1975 and raised in Bajamar, Honduras; Guifity began singing at the age of seven.  Being in the Honduran musical group “Videos” (consisting of childhood friends from Bajamar, including a Mr. Gerardo Colon; former President of the Bajamar Committee) gave Guifity his first experience performing for the public.

Photo of Garifuna Singer Guifity in New York City.  Undated.

Photo of Garifuna Singer Guifity in New York City. Undated.

Eventually, Guifity attended the Rural San Martin de Porres school in Puerto Cortes, Honduras.  Upon completing his basic studies, he decided to move to Tegucigalpa (capitol of Honduras) to look for work.  Once there, he landed his first job as a cook at a local restaurant.  Because he was underage at the time, he was dismissed from that job.


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While looking to make a living, Guifity still had to address his deep-rooted need to sing, and joined the musical group “Tegus Band”.  While achieving a bit of success with Tegus Band was great, Guifity missed his hometown of Bajamar, and eventually returned there in 1993.  It was while there that Mr. Clotter earned his nickname.

Upon returning to Bajamar, Honduras, Mr. Clotter began to sing at a local bar called Caravana.  One night as he was singing at this club, a relative saw him performing, raced home and bragged to family and friends about how he had seen this big billboard that stated “HOY, El Show Del Pequeño Guifity” (“Today, the Show of the Little One Guifity” in Spanish) and he’s carried that name ever since.  However, Garifuna Singer Musician Babylou has a slightly different story about how Mr. Clotter became to be known as Guifity.


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According to Garifuna Singer Babylou, Mr. Clotter was performing with an Indio band (“Indios de Olancho”), and when he was introduced by the host or master of ceremonies for the evening, Mr. Clotter was introduced as “the little Guifity”).  Mr. Clotter was a relatively short guy and that introduction stuck as word spread around Bajamar about “el pequeño Guifity / the little Guifity”.  Guifity also being the name of a Garifuna medicinal drink confuses matters as well.

Certificate presented to Garifuna Singer Guifity by the Honduran Consulate in honor of Guifity's Musical Legacy.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Certificate presented to Garifuna Singer Guifity by the Honduran Consulate in New York in honor of Guifity’s Musical Legacy. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna Singer Babylou is the co-founder of the Garifuna Musical Group, Kaligar Band, of which Guifity was a member.  Kaligar Band was founded in 1992 by Mr. Pedro Peri.  A former member of the U.S. Army, Babylou observed while Kaligar Band went on hiatus after the passing of it’s founder Mr. Pedro Peri from natural causes in 1995.  Babylou explains that he was inspired to bring back the Second Generation of Kaligar Band once he connected with Guifity when he arrived in the United States in 1998. Also, Babylou felt he owed it to Mr. Pedro Peri to restart Kaligar Band.

Kaligar Band album cover.  Guifity is on the far right (Center).  Photo from Facebook.

Kaligar Band album cover. Guifity is on the far right (Center). Babylou is on the far left.  Photo from Facebook.

Babylou explained that Guifity was a singer in the group.  At times, he played Keyboards but mainly simply sung.  Blessed with a forceful yet tender singing voice; Babylou noted that Guifity didn’t need any tutoring as far as singing is concerned. In fact, Guifity’s distinct singing style brought another dimension to the group.

Cropped Kaligar Band Poster or Album Cover.  Guifity is third from left in the white shirt.  Photo from Facebook.

Cropped Kaligar Band Poster or Album Cover. Guifity is third from left in the white shirt. Photo from Facebook.

However, Guifity was a novice as far as stagecraft was concerned.  It was here where Babylou’s influence was helpful as he helped Guifity get a full grounding in the science of working a stage for maximum public appeal.


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In remembering his time with Guifity, Babylou remembers the mid-2000s being a really good time as far as his musical career was concerned.  There were plenty of gigs and Guifity was able to make a name for himself in the United States.  It’s tricky for me to get a full accounting for Guifity’s musical output as he was a member of a number of New York City based Garifuna musical groups like Alagany Band and Legacy Gifted as well as a Garifuna Singer with solo albums to his credit.  He also guested on single songs with other artists as well.

Garifuna Singer Guifity posing with Garifuna Musical Group, Alagany Band; of which he was a member.  Photo from Facebook.

Garifuna Singer Guifity (in the suit) posing with Garifuna Musical Group, Alagany Band; of which he was a member. Photo from Facebook.

Below is a song called “Umadagu” (“Friends” in the Garifuna Language) featuring the singers:

Raul from Kassave, Babylou, Sandra from Cielpa, Mike from Libana Maraza and Guifity (last featured singer on the song, he appears on the song at the 6:17 point).

Below is Guifity’s song, “Felicita”. I do not know when this song was released nor do I know which album features this song.

Below is a promo video for Garifuna musical group, Legacy Gifted. Guifity introduces the band at the beginning of the video.

In my conversation with Babylou, while Guifity made a name for himself in the United States, he was more comfortable in Honduras. According to Babylou, it’s difficult living on music along in America. While in Honduras, that’s all you can do pretty much. I was not able to confirm this, but I think Guifity returned to Honduras for good in 2009 or 2010.

Shrine to Garifuna Singer Guifity in the Bronx Apartment of his sister.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Shrine to Garifuna Singer Guifity in the Bronx Apartment of his sister. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Photo of Guifity at the Bronx Wake for Garifuna Singer Guifity.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Photo of Guifity at the Bronx Wake for Garifuna Singer Guifity. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

When asked what he remembers most about Guifity, Babylou explained that Guifity loved to joke around. In scanning responses to Guifity’s passing on Facebook, a few people mentioned Guifity’s storytelling ability and joking manner.


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Babylou last saw Guifity in 2014 and he noticed that he was in great spirits. He was a performer to the end and Babylou noted that when Guifity performed, that it was his great expression of his LOVE of music.  In particular, Babylou remembered performing with Guifity at a FREE benefit  concert for Bajamar, Honduras that was done purely as a gift for supporters and fans of their music art.  It was a rare opportunity to see noteworthy Garifuna singers from Bajamar, Honduras performing together.

Garifuna Percussionists Mundito and Dony Medina at the wake for Guifity in the Bronx.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna Percussionists Mundito and Dony Medina at the wake for Guifity in the Bronx. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna Percussionist Dony Medina mentioned that he never saw Guifity get mad.  What he will remember about Guifity was the music he left behind, all of which Mr. Medina loved.


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Garifuna American Drummer Scarface (from the Garifuna American Band Garifuna Outlaws) pointedly brought up the dynamic vocal range of Guifity.  Scarface has many personal and public memories of Guifity, who was his uncle.  Scarface explained that listening to Guifity’s solo albums as well as his singing in the Kaligar Band albums along with hearing the Garifuna Language in the home helped with learning the Garifuna Language–highlighting another benefit of the music.

Scarface, BabyLou and Juan at the Bronx wake for Guifity in 2015.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Scarface, BabyLou and Juan at the Bronx wake for Guifity in 2015. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

I was able to find a few photos of Guifity, but not many album covers.  Most of the people I spoke to didn’t have them on hand so all I can post some of what I uncovered here.  Also, I was told that Guifity loved and admired the music of Parandero Paul Nabor.  I am unaware of any other singers or musicians whose music art he admired, Garifuna or non-Garifuna.

Guifity Discography

I wasn’t able to confirm the names of Guifity’s solo albums but here are photos of two that I was able to find on Facebook.

Guifity — “Pensando En La Vida”.

Here is Guifity's "Pensando En La Vida" CD.

Here is Guifity’s “Pensando En La Vida” CD.

Guifity “Alegria & Tristeza” album.

Guifity "Alegria & Tristeza" album.

Guifity “Alegria & Tristeza” album.

A number of people took to social media to respond to Guifity’s passing.  Below are screen captures of posts on Facebook.

Comment by Angel Suazo.

Comment by Angel Suazo.

Comment by Ariana Flores.

Comment by Ariana Flores.

Comment by Deenee David.

Comment by Deenee David.

Comment by Dony Medina.

Comment by Dony Medina.

Comment by Igundany Luz Bonilla.

Comment by Igundany Luz Bonilla.

Comment by Garifuna Singer Lil June.

Comment by Garifuna Singer Lil June.

Comment by Luis Rivas.

Comment by Luis Rivas.

Comment by Melba Saravia.

Comment by Melba Saravia.

Comment by Nilly The Star.

Comment by Nilly The Star.

Comment by Garifuna Singer Nino Arzu.

Comment by Garifuna Singer Nino Arzu.

Comment by Garifuna Music Producer Ozzie Smith.

Comment by Garifuna Music Producer Ozzie Smith.

Comment by Raquel Maradiaga.

Comment by Raquel Maradiaga.

Comment by Risitos Guerrero.

Comment by Risitos Guerrero.

Comment by Suyapa Martinez Harford.

Comment by Suyapa Martinez Harford.

Comment by Waldina Clotter.

Comment by Waldina Clotter.

Comment by Wilma Ordonez Clotter.

Comment by Wilma Ordonez Clotter.

Comment by Garifuna Singer Musician Young Gari.

Comment by Garifuna Singer Musician Young Gari.

When I interviewed Guifity’s relatives and friends at the Bronx wake for him, I asked what would they like the world to know about Guifity.  They all stressed that Guifity was a loving and talented Garifuna man who loved music.

I met him once at the 2009 Honduran and Central American Festival at Crotona Park in the Bronx. I said Hello and he responded by saying something in the Garifuna Language.  I don’t know what he said upon meeting me, but I think it was the common thought about me as I popped onto the scene in 2009, “Who IS that guy?”.

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Upon learning a bit more about Guifity, I came to admire his drive, respect his singing talent and keep in mind that he made the most of his time while on Earth. When I think about immigrants like Guifity or my parents or older relatives, I am often astonished by what they were able to accomplish with the seeming lack of resources.  In fact, their accomplishments put efforts by American-born people like myself to shame!!!

With a talent like Guifity’s, it’s best to end this posting with what brought you here.  His music.  Below is a song of his called “Uba Erey Nun” (“Give Me Strength”) Produced by Valerio Productions (Juventud Garifuna), it’s a touching song were Guifity sings about being sick and living with a disease.

Credits: Justin Fernandez- Leads, Keyboard, Congas, Hi Hats, Co-Engineer.
Angel Alvarez- Keyboard, Melodies, Producer
Wilfredo “WillyMan” Martinez- Guitars
Tony “Menor” Valerio – Bass, Tambor, Engineer”


Below is Tribute to Guifity by Garifuna DJ, GarifunaStar DJ Nelson.  It is a mix of a number of Parranda Songs by Guifity.  It features his collaborations with Garifuna musical groups like Kaligar Band and Alagany Band as well as Garifuna singers like Babylou.


 

If I am inaccurate in anyway about Guifity in this article, please email me or call me and let me know.  I will make any corrections as soon as I can.

Finally, below is video of Garifuna Singer BABYLOU singing while organizing a Memorial for Guifity in Bajamar, Honduras in April 2015.  After a brief speech, he sings Guifity’s song, “Uba Erey Nun” (“Give Me Strength” in the Garifuna Language).

 

About The Garifuna People

The Garifuna people are people of African descent (in other words, Black people) whose ancestry can be traced to Africans mixing with Carib Indians and Arawak Indians on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent.  From this cultural fusion of race and ethnicities on St. Vincent Island, a distinct culture and language arose.  They are noted for being one of the few (only?) peoples of African descent (again, in other words, Black people) in the Americas to have maintained aspects of their ancestral culture and full use of their ancestral language for everyday use over the course of hundreds of years.

After being defeated in war with the British on St. Vincent in 1796; 1004 men, 1779 women and 1,555 children for a total of 4,338 people (mostly Black Caribs, as the Garifuna people were then known) were captured and taken to Baliceaux, a small island, a rock, basically, off the coast of St. Vincent.  This took place from July 1796 through February/March 1797.  About 2,000 Garifunas died of a mysterious and very infectious fever while living on Baliceaux awaiting their fate.   1

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In early March 1797, the remaining Garifunas were loaded onto the HMS Experiment and other ships. Once they were rounded up, the convoy were taken to a Bequia, which is another island off the coast of St. Vincent. They proceeded to go to Grenada to get water, then Jamaica for refueling, then finally Roatan, Honduras, arriving on April 12th 1797.

Finding much of Roatan unliveable, the Garifuna people petitioned officials representing Spain and it’s government (which controlled much of Central America at the time) to be allowed to move to the Honduran mainland.  Upon being allowed to move to the Honduran mainland, namely the port town of Trujillo, Honduras in May 1797; the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribbean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.  Finally, Garifuna People have also migrated to the United States of America where generations have settled in cities like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Finally, Garifuna People have also migrated to the United States of America where generations have settled in cities like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.  Despite their mainly Spanish surnames, their culture and history are distinct from other Afro-American and Latino ethnic groups and it’s important to keep that in mind.

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Garifuna Singer Guifity, who passed away on February 1st 2015 in Bajamar, Honduras.

Garifuna Singer Guifity, who passed away on February 1st 2015 in Bajamar, Honduras.

 

 

Notes:

  1. Nancie L. Gonzalez, “Sojourners of the Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garifuna” pg. 21

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