Prestigious grant unites African music legend Youssou N'Dour with rising
Honduran star Aurelio Martinez for an exciting year of artistic collaboration
With the help of luxury watch company Rolex, Afropop legend Youssou N'Dour
and the rising Garifuna music star and Cumbancha/Stonetree recording
artist Aurelio Martinez will be working closely together over
the next year in an inspiring musical reunion between Africa and the
Americas. The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative pairs
highly talented young artists from around the world with great masters
in film, visual arts, theater, dance, and music for a year of creative
collaboration in a one on one mentoring relationship. West African superstar
N'Dour, chosen by Rolex to be this year's music mentor, personally
selected Martinez to be his protégé, inviting the Honduran musician
to tour and record throughout the coming year.
Every two years, Rolex invites masters
in dance, film, literature, music, theatre and the visual arts to provide
individual guidance to gifted young artists. In six disciplines, a senior
artist (the mentor) agrees to foster and counsel a young artist (the
protégé) for one year. Previous mentors have included Martin Scorsese,
Wole Soyinka, Julie Taymor, Pinchas Zukerman, Toni
Morrison and other highly recognized figures in the arts.
Martinez is a Honduran born musician
who is acclaimed as a central figure in the recent resurgence of the
music of the Garifuna, an Afro-Amerindian community whose culturally
threatened population lives primarily along the Caribbean coasts of
Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.
His debut album Garifuna
Soul received critical acclaim worldwide and he is a member
of the Garifuna Collective, a multi-generational group of Garifuna
musicians whose work with the late Andy Palacio on the Cumbancha/Stonetree album
is now legendary in world music circles. Currently, Martinez is fronting
the Andy Palacio Tribute Tour, promising to carry the torch for
Garifuna culture after Palacio's tragic and untimely death in January
2008. Martinez is the first member of his local Garifuna community to
be elected as a representative to the Honduran National Congress, where
he is a staunch advocate for the nation's minority populations.
The collaboration fulfills a life
long goal of Martinez to reconnect Garifuna music with its African roots.
"There is so much I would like to learn from Youssou N'Dour and
from Senegal's musical culture," he says. "It is my dream to reconnect
Garifuna music with our ancestral homeland." N'Dour also extended
praise to his protégé remarking, "The man has talent. I told him
that you may be here to learn something, but I tell you, I'm sure
I'm going to learn a lot from you!"
The two artists plan to tour together
in Europe this year and collaborate on new music in N'Dour's recording
studio in Dakar. Producer Ivan Duran has already begun work on Martinez's
next album, which will be released in 2009 on Cumbancha/Stonetree.
The Andy Palacio Tribute Tour
featuring Aurelio Martinez, Umalali and the Garifuna Collective will
be taking place in Europe this summer.
For more information on the Rolex Mentor Protégé Arts Initiative, visit: