Finally, this hour, the music of Aurelio Martinez. He's from Honduras, and he's been a champion for his people, the marginalized Garifuna. They are black Central Americans descended from African slaves and Caribbean Indians.

For four years, Aurelio Martinez fought for Garifuna causes as a Honduran congressman. Now, with his group Garifuna Soul, he's returned to music to address his people's plight.

Banning Eyre has this review of Aurelio Martinez's new album.

(Soundbite of song, "Bisien Nu")

BANNING EYRE: Garifuna music has a mysterious Afro-Caribbean roots. There are West African rhythms and a Latin lilt, flavors of reggae and calypso. At the core is a unique language and poetic tradition focused on the hard lives of a disempowered people who live at the mercy of the sea.

(Soundbite of song, "Bisien Nu")

AURELIO and GARIFUNA SOUL with ORCHESTRA BAOBAB (Music Groups): (Singing in foreign language)

EYRE: Backing Aurelio up vocally on this poignant love song are members of the veteran Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab. Aurelio has forged a special tie with Senegal, thanks to a program that sent him there to mentor what he used to endure, arguably Africa's greatest living singer and bandleader - and, boy, did it mean a lot to this African-descended Central American to make that connection.

(Soundbite of song, "Wamada")

AURELIO and GARIFUNA SOUL: (Singing in foreign language)

EYRE: That's Aurelio and Youssou mixing it up on a song recorded in memory of the late Garifuna star Andy Palacio.

There are Senegalese flavors inserted throughout "Laru Beya," but the CD keeps its focus on Garifuna music, with its rolling rhythms and irresistible folk melodies. This song talks about sharks, Aurelio's characterization of the politicians he worked with in the Honduran Congress.

(Soundbite of song, "Weibayuwa")

AURELIO and GARIFUNA SOUL: (Singing in foreign language)

EYRE: The Garifuna of Central America know their language and culture are threatened in their home countries, but Garifuna music has achieved outsized recognition on the international music scene. Aurelio with his talent, vision, charisma and searing voice does a lot more for his people with music than he ever could as a congressman.

(Soundbite of music)

AURELIO and GARIFUNA SOUL: (Singing in foreign language)

NORRIS: Banning Eyre is senior editor at afropop.org. The album is called "Laru Beya" by Aurelio and Garifuna Soul.

(Soundbite of music)

AURELIO and GARIFUNA SOUL: (Singing in foreign language)


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