The Kennedy Center

The Garifuna Collective


The Garifuna Collective was co-founded and led by the late Andy Palacio (1960–2008), a musician dedicated to preserving the unique Garifuna language and culture. Today this group of accomplished, multi-generational Garifuna artists continues to tour and perform in Palacio’s memory and with his commitment to keeping Garifuna tradition and language alive against their threatened extinction. The hybrid culture of the African-Amerindian Garifuna communities, located on the Caribbean coasts of Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, is influenced by West Africa and indigenous Carib, as well as the Arawak Indian language. Garifuna music has gained a following in the form of a less traditional style known as punta rock, but the Garifuna Collective focuses on the roots of Garifuna tradition, adding contemporary elements to traditional forms to bring the soul of this music into a modern context. Through their music, the Collective aims to portray what it means to be Garifuna. Peace Corps volunteers have worked with the Music Industry Association in Belize and with the Garifuna Collective’s record label on small business development and graphic design. 

The Garifuna Collective traces its roots to the early 1980s, when the teenaged Andy Palacio traveled from his home in the Central American country of Belize to serve in a literacy campaign in Nicaragua. Palacio is Garifuna, a unique culture based on the Caribbean coast of Central America that blends elements of West African and Native Caribbean heritage. At the time Nicaragua's local Garifuna traditions and language were all but extinct. This cultural disappearance was a tragic reality foreshadowing what was bound to happen in Belize less than a generation down the road. Palacio's music, career, and life mission are an extension of this campaign, centered upon the preservation and revitalization of the Garifuna legacy. As Palacio remarked, "I decided to follow my passion and focus more on performing Garifuna music as a way to keep the traditions alive long into the future." Wátina, a stunning new album featuring an all-star, multigenerational lineup of musicians from Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, proclaims Garifuna’s revitalization. 
Members of The Garifuna Collective include:
Joshua Arana, lead Garifuna drum and back vocals
Marcela Aranda, lead vocals and percussion
Lloyd Augustine, vocals and electric guitar
Sofia Blanco, lead vocals
Desiree Diego, lead vocals and percussion
Denmark Flores, bass Garifuna drum and back vocals
Sam Harris, lead guitar and back vocals
Al Ovando, bass and back vocals
The Garifuna Collective