Award Winning Garifuna Star Andy Palacio Seriously ill

Jacob Edgar, president of Cumbancha Records, reported this morning that world music star Andy Palacio‘s health has seriously deteriorated. "We’re deeply saddened to report that Andy Palacio has experienced what was apparently a severe heart attack and is in grave condition " said Edgar. "He is currently on life support and the prognosis is not good. We are all hoping for a miracle and that Andy will regain consciousness, but at this point this does not seem likely."

According to Edgar, Palacio started feeling poorly a few days ago and visited a doctor with complaints of dizziness and blurred vision. On Thursday he began experiencing seizures and was rushed to Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan City, Belize and later to the Universal Health Services Hospital,  in Belize City. The doctors initially thought Andy, who was still conscious and communicative at that time, had experienced a stroke, and were even diagnosing multiple sclerosis at one point. "At this point, we were all hopeful Andy would recover," said Edgar.

Yesterday, January 17, Palacio’s condition worsened and he began experiencing more seizures. Andy Palacio is a national icon in Belize, known as the Punta Rock king, and the story of his illness has not only been big news there, the Prime Minister has been putting his full support behind Andy’s treatment. When Andy’s condition started to decline, he was placed on an air ambulance to Chicago where he was expected to get treatment at one of the premier neurological facilities in the United States.

En route to Chicago, the plane stopped in Mobile, Alabama to clear immigration. At that point, Andy was unconscious and it was determined that he was too ill to continue on the flight to Chicago. Andy is currently in a hospital in Mobile, Alabama where he is in a coma. His cousin, Michael Polonio, is by his side and Andy’s daughters will be arriving shortly.

Andy Palacio and Ivan Duran, both of Belize, won the 2007 WOMEX Award. Andy Palacio is a Garifuna musician, activist and Belize’s cultural ambassador. He was born and raised in the coastal village of Barranco and grew up listening to traditional Garifuna music as well as imported sounds coming over the radio from neighboring Honduras, Guatemala, the Caribbean and the United States.

Palacio became a leading figure in a growing renaissance of young Garifuna intellectuals who were writing poetry and songs in their native language. He saw the emergence of an upbeat, popular dance form based on Garifuna rhythms that became known as punta rock and enthusiastically took part in developing the form.

Since 1988, Andy Palacio has gained enormous popularity both in Belize and abroad, having played before audiences in the Caribbean, the Americas and Europe and Asia. Belizean producer/musician Iván Durán, Palacio’s longtime collaborator and founder of Belize’s pioneer label Stonetree Records, convinced Palacio that he should focus on less commercial forms of Garifuna music and look more deeply into its soul and roots. Wátina, the debut album of Andy Palacio & the Garifuna Collective, was released in February of 2007 on the Cumbancha record label.

In December 2004, he was appointed Cultural Ambassador and Deputy Administrator of the National Institute of Culture and History.

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