Saving Belizean Music

I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting music. Unfortunately, in an era of American Idol, Backstreet Boys, and Celine Dion, I’m finding I have to look further and further abroad to find something actually good.

It was therefore with a welcome surprise that I came across an LA Times article about local music in Belize.


What exactly is Belizean music, you ask? Can Central American music be categorized? Does it have Caribbean flavor? Or, perhaps a touch of Mariachi. Well, according to writer Reed Johnson, a trip to Belize will reveal a complicated pastiche of musical flavors inspired by a long, multicultural history of African slaves, Carib Indians, and numerous other melting pot elements thrown into the stew.

The resulting “polyrhythmic… sonic cocktail” is in danger of disappearing, however, as hacks like Clay Aiken make inroads into local CD stores. Thankfully, Stonetree Records, a Belizean company, is here to help. Since 1995, they’ve been reissuing traditional Belizean music and keeping the flame alive. Check out their website for some fantastic downloads. I particularly liked the Paranda clip, described as “African drumming, American Blues, Cuban Son, and West African guitar all wrapped into one.” Be sure to give it a listen.