Born in the tiny coastal hamlet of Plaplaya on Honduras’ Caribbean coast, Aurelio Martinez, 39, may be one of the last generations to grow up steeped in Garifuna tradition. These traditions encompass the African and Caribbean Indian roots of his ancestors, a group of shipwrecked slaves who intermarried with local natives on the island of St. Vincent, only to be deported to the Central American coast in the late eighteenth century.
Martinez recalls his humble but highly musical beginnings in his remote hometown. “In the village I was born, there is still no electricity,” Martinez told Afropop Worldwide in a 2006 interview. “When I was a child, I had very natural toys. My first toy was a guitar I built for myself from wood taken from a fishing rod. So that’s how I played my first chords.”
He learned these chords from his family, including his father, a well-loved local troubadour who improvised playful paranda songs that embrace Garifuna roots and Latin sounds. He became a drummer almost as soon as he began to walk, thanks to his uncles and grandfather. From his vocally talented mother, he learned to sing and picked up many songs she crafted.
A prodigy of percussion, Martinez began performing at Garifuna ceremonies when just a boy, even at the most sacred events where children were usually not allowed. By the time he left Plaplaya to attend school at 14, he was a respected musician with a firm grounding in Garifuna rhythms, rituals, and songs.
While attending secondary school at the provincial capital of La Cieba, Martinez dove into diverse and innovative musical projects that took him outside the traditional sphere of performance. He played professionally…
Born in the tiny coastal hamlet of Plaplaya on Honduras’ Caribbean coast, Aurelio Martinez, 39, may be one of the last generations to grow up steeped in Garifuna tradition….
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- Promo Photo - Aurelio - Promo Photo 2 (by Sarah Weeden)
- Promo Photo - Aurelio - Promo Photo 1 (by Sarah Weeden)
- Cover - Laru Beya