WOMEX announced the joint winners of the 2007 WOMEX Award, Andy Palacio and Ivan Duran, both of Belize. Andy Palacio is a Garifuna musician, activist and Belize’s cultural ambassador. Ivan Duran, a musician and producer, is founder of Stonetree Records. Top Label Awards and BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music nominations will all be presented at the FIBES auditorium Al-Andalus at 12 noon on Sunday, 28 October 2007
"We intend the WOMEX award to serve as an example of what is best in our community," said WOMEX General Director, Gerald Seligman. "And who better to receive it than Ivan Duran and Andy Palacio? Each in their way is exemplary. Each has made an indelible mark on his country’s cultural life. Ivan is a virtually one man music industry in Belize. And Andy has almost single-handedly put Garifuna culture on the world’s musical map, and by doing so has helped to preserve it.""The past decade has seen the production of a number of field and studio recordings from Central America that have brought Garifuna artistry to the attention of world-music audiences," explained Princeton University’s Michael Stone, a scholar of the Garifuna and friend of Duran and Palacio. "Leading the way, Belize-based Stonetree Records – through the work of producer Ivan Duran with singer Andy Palacio and other Garifuna artists – represents a unique effort, indigenous to the region, to document and reinforce the expressive cultural traditions of the Garifuna people and other minority groups of Caribbean Central America."
"It’s an extraordinary endorsement," said an emotional Andy Palacio>,"not just for me as an artist – but for a community that, despite the greatest challenges, has demonstrated a remarkable resilience, with cultural expression at the forefront." Community, it’s a concept Andy returns to again and again, even calling his group the Garifuna Collective.
"I’m too young to be receiving awards!" exclaimed Ivan Duran, already practicing for his acceptance speech. "I feel very humbled by this award and I share it with the many ‘small’ and unknown producers around the world who, like me, one day decided to produce new music and artists that no ‘big label’ cared about."