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    Stonetree News | WOMEX Award 2007
       Andy Palacio & Ivan Duran Win WOMEX Award      

The award is presented every year at WOMEX to an individual or organization that represents the best the world music community has to offer. Previous winners have included Nick Gold of World Circuit, The Mahotella Queens, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Marc Hollander of Crammed Discs among others.

It is a great honor for Andy and Ivan to be granted this award and it reflects recognition by their peers for the essential work they have been doing in bringing attention to Garifuna music and culture. According to WOMEX, “Since its introduction in 1999, the WOMEX Award has been honoring world music on the international level. Musical excellence, social effectiveness, commercial success, political impact, lifetime achievement - any or all of these might make one a worthy recipient.” Given this criteria, Andy and Ivan’s tireless efforts over the years certainly qualify them for this wonderful achievement, and we’re very happy the WOMEX committee chose to recognize them.

The award is accompanied by a ceremony at the end of the WOMEX conference, which will feature a performance by Umalali & the Garifuna Collective with Andy Palacio as special guest. Umalali is a wonderful Garifuna Women’s Project produced as well by Ivan Duran that will be released by Cumbancha in the spring of 2008.

The full text of the announcement is provided below. For more information on the WOMEX award visit


WOMEX is proud to announce 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.

"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."

For these reasons and a hundred more, WOMEX has bestowed the 2007 award on Andy Palacio and Ivan Duran.

"In 2001 UNESCO's Director-General proclaimed the Garifuna language, music and dance to be among the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity," said Michael Stone. "The decree highlighted the distinctive value of the Garifuna cultural traditions (under pressure from mass tourism, encroachment upon native lands, emigration and other forces of globalization) and stressed the urgency of safeguarding Garifuna culture." Among the best efforts are those of our Award winners.

"Together they truly represent a certain spirit of WOMEX," said Ben Mandelson, musician, producer, and WOMEX's first Director. "Andy is taking a local music and putting it on the regional, then international stage; making it popular without compromise, yet remaining creative; being committed in the long-term to representing core cultural values as a true 'sonic ambassador.' Ivan best represents what is valuable, good, important, correct, moral and creative about the world music community; which he does with integrity; meeting international standards and global vision whilst using local resources. He is creating a positive image of his country internationally through positive means (the means of music). Together they represent committed independence, determination, and integrity - with a moral quality as well as a product and business quality. And all of this achieved with a relaxed modesty and humour!"

We'll give the last word to Paul Nabor, the Garifuna's elder statesman, who is still bringing down the house with Andy Palacio. In a large white cane cowboy hat that threatens to engulf him as he shuffles about on stage, Nabor sings his powerful songs of a resilient culture. What did he make of the award? He smiled. "I feel happy. Andy's the first one trying to do this for the Garifuna. I've been playing since I was 18 and I'm 79 now, and this is the first chance I have to play for so many people. I'm proud of Andy. I can say to anybody that Andy started this thing."

And what about Ivan? "Ivan works fine, too. I love how Ivan works. He takes good care of me."

Stay tuned for more details!
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