By Marion V. Ali
Celebrated Punta Rock legend, Andy Palacio, will be honoured posthumously in his home village of Barranco, Toledo this weekend with the first ever Andy Palacio Music Festival, in commemoration of his birthday on December 2nd.
The event is a partnership between the Wagiya Foundation and the Andy Palacio Foundation, and aims to fulfill one of Andy’s dreams – to raise funds to help provide the resources for music education in Barranco.
Organizer of the concert, Dr. Anna Arzu told the Reporter that proceeds from the event will be used to construct the Andy Palacio Music Conservatory in Barranco, which will serve as an extension of the village’s elementary school.
The family-friendly event will take place in front of the village church, and will feature the Garifuna Collective, with whom Palacio traveled the world and performed his hit song “Watina”. The event will also include live performances from a number of musical artists who Palacio mentored, as well as a section for comedy, poetry and a talent show.
Admission to the event is $30 and transportation will be provided by the Barranco bus from Punta Gorda at midday on Saturday for an additional $5. James bus will be providing additional shuttling to the venue from the PG Central Park starting at 1:00 p.m. for a fee of $10. Boats will also be available from Punta Gorda at a cost of $20 per person. An array of traditional Garifuna foods will also be available on sale.
The late Andy Palacio would have turned 55 years old this past Wednesday. He fell ill suddenly on January 16th, 2008, with two “stroke-like seizures” at his home in San Ignacio, Cayo. He was later referred to Chicago for specialized medical treatment via air ambulance.
His condition steadily deteriorated while en route and while being cleared by United States customs in Mobile, Alabama, Palacio fell unconscious and was rushed to a local hospital. There, his prognosis was deemed bleak and his family requested that he be returned so he could die in Belize. Palacio died in Belize City on January 19th of a massive stroke to the brain, a heart attack and respiratory failure.
Palacio was born and raised in Barranco and was a teacher for a brief period before he turned to a musical career. He received the award for “Best New Artist” at the Caribbean Music Awards in 1991, and was posthumously awarded the BBC-3 “World Music Award” in the Americas Category, in 2008.
During his official visit to Belize in September of 2007, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, designated Andy Palacio a UNESCO Artist for Peace.