The Garifuna Collective and the Umalali Singers returned to Belize today after a two-week North American tour that included a performance at the Cultural Olympiad, part of the official festivities for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada. The tour also included shows in Seattle, Washington, San Diego and Chico, California, as well as New Hampshire.
Fronting the Collective once again were vocalists Desiree Diego, Sofia Blanco, Marcella Torres. The women were accompanied on stage by musicians Joshua Arana, Denmark Flores, Sam Harris, Wilton Lewis and Al Ovando.
This was the Collective's first return to North America since their extremely successful summer tour in 2009. However, unlike the open-air festivals that welcomed the Collective last summer, this tour saw the Collective performing in "soft seat" theatre environments. Playing before a seated audience may have been a different experience for the Collective, but nonetheless by the end of the shows concert goers were on their feet, dancing to the music.
According to Collective engineer/musician, Al Ovando, who served as the road manager on this tour, "We have come a long way and every tour brings a new experience. Just as audiences learn about our music and culture, we also learn from each performance and we get better every time".
Producer, Ivan Duran, of Stonetree Records continues, "This group is very original in the way they present Garifuna music to the world. Nobody sounds like them. They continue to define contemporary roots music and they keep reaching new audiences every year."
Some of the members have been playing together for over 10 years, having toured the world with late Belizean music icon Andy Palacio. The band's repertoire is comprised of Garifuna songs from the highly acclaimed Watina and Umalali albums, as well as several new arrangements of traditional songs.
The Garifuna Collective continues to be Belize's most recognized international music ambassadors. To date they have performed in over 20 countries on 3 continents. They are working on a new album at the Stonetree studios in Benque Viejo and are scheduled to tour Mexico in April. They will also perform in several European countries this July. – Press Release