The Kennedy Center

Libaya Baba and James Lovell


The Libaya Baba group performs traditional music and rhythms on the drums, often accompanied by singers, which reflects the various musical traditions among the Garifuna people. The Libaya Baba name means “grandchildren of the sacred wise elder” and pays tribute to the grandfather of three of the members. The group members grew up in Belize and immigrated to Los Angeles, where they play at many Garifuna events, including ancestral rituals, wakes, and weddings. The Libaya Baba will be joined by James Lovell, a Garifuna artist from Brooklyn, New York. Originally from Belize he uses music, songs, storytelling, and poetry to inspire young people to learn the Garifuna language and take pride in their cultural heritage. 

The Garifuna people are of Carib, Arawak, and West African ancestry. In 1797, they were exiled by the British from their homeland on the island of St. Vincent, which they call Yurumein, and settled along the Caribbean coast of Central America. Today, they live primarily in Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Nicaragua, St. Vincent, and the United States. People in Garifuna diaspora communities throughout the United States are striving to keep their distinctive language, culture, and history alive for future generations, including rich and varied traditions of music, song, dance, foodways, and community celebrations. UNESCO proclaimed Garifuna language, dance, and music a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001. This group presents Garifuna songs, dance, and drumming from the diaspora communities of Los Angeles and New York City. Garifuna Music and Dance will be playing at the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival as part of the One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage program.
Libaya Baba