Despite a history of displacement and hardship, the Garifuna people of Honduras (or, as they call themselves, the Garinagu) have not only survived but have maintained a strong and rich cultural identity. Through all of the turmoil -- taken from their homes in Nigeria as slaves, shipwrecked in the Caribbean, uneasily assimilated into island life on St. Vincent, shipped off to an uninhabitable Honduran island by British colonists, and then re-settled on the Honduran mainland -- the Garinagu continued to maintain a rich culture of food, language, dance and, of course, music. Garifuna music has evolved into several genres, with the booty-shaking punta and its modern offspring, punta rock, being most popular among them. Recently, the Garifuna genre of paranda has gained wider acclaim thanks to modern paranderos like Aurelio Martinez. Paranda mixes drumming styles dating back to St. Vincent and West Africa with distinctly Latin guitar rhythms. Aurelio Martinez, son of a paranda-playing troubadour, began performing traditional Garifuna music at an early age and has ever since spent his life promoting and maintaining Garifuna culture, even while taking time off from music for a while to act as the first representative of African descent in the Honduran National Congress. Promoting his new album, Laru Beya, out now on the new Sub Pop subsidiary label Next Ambiance, started by host of KEXP’s The Best Ambiance, Jon Kertzer, Aurelio Martinez, who goes by just “Aurelio” on the album, brought his band to the KEXP studio to perform some of the new songs live. Check out the videos from this amazing performance. (And read more about their tumultuous history here.)
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