Aurelio Martinez Celebrates 30 Years of Music

Posted on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Although Aurelio Martinez was born and raised in Honduras, he has become one of Belize’s lasting icons due to his iconic blending of traditional Garifuna music with more modern styles like rock, soul, blues, and New Orleans style jazz. On April 10, 2017, Martinez returned to the Bliss Stage in Belize City to celebrate the launch of his latest album with a live concert featuring a 15-piece band that included the Garifuna Collective.

Thirty years ago, Aurelio Martinez made his professional debut on an album that featured his signature style of blending traditional Garifuna music with modern genres. Martinez’s latest album called Darandi, which means 30 in Garifuna, contains 12 tracks, including a cover of the classic Paul Nabor song “Naguya Nei.” According to Martinez, Darandi represents the closing of one chapter of his musical life and celebrating his moving on towards new beginnings and experimentations with different musical styles.

The album Darandi was partly mixed in Belize in studios in Benque Biejo and Dangriga by Al Obando, a celebrated Belizean producer. According to Martinez, the album is a tribute to his close friend Andy Palacio, a native of Belize who recently passed away. Martinez met Palacio in Honduras and the two musicians collaborated on several projects. The album is also dedicated to Paul Nabor, whom Martinez has referred to as his musical “grandpa”, the Belizean musician who helped popularize Garifuna music worldwide.

Martinez has been a musical prodigy since childhood. At age 6, he fashioned his first guitar out of fishing line and driftwood. At age 15, Martinez received his first guitar, leading him to a lifetime of producing, writing, and performing music. Although he is primarily known for his singing, guitar playing, and percussion work, Martinez is also a skilled dancer, often performing traditional Garifuna steps during his musical performances.

Perhaps the most popular track on his latest album is Yalifu, the Garifuna word for pelican. Martinez has described how the lyrics “Pelican, lend me your wings so that I can fly,” refers to his childhood separation from his father when he was left behind in Honduras while his father went to work in the United States. Martinez has stated that he wants the song to represent bigger issues as well, dedicated to anyone separated from a loved one and longing to be reunited.

Chabil Mar

Chabil Mar is an award-winning resort located on the Placencia Peninsula in southern Belize and is close to many Garifuna centers such as the town of Dangriga and the villages of Hopkins and Seine Bight where visitors can experience the rich musical heritage of the Garifuna people.

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