Belizeans Andy Palacio and Ivan Duran are the 2007 winners of the prestigious WOMEX award. The award is presented annually to an individual or organization for their contributions to the world music community. Previous winners include Nick Gold of World Circuit, The Mahotella Queens, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Marc Hollander of Crammed Discs.
Palacio is a Garifuna musician, activist and Belize's cultural ambassador. Duran is the producer of Palacio's latest release Wátinaand thefounder of Belize-based 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."
Since its inception in 1999, the WOMEX Award has been honoring world music on the international level for musical excellence, social effectiveness, commercial success, political impact and lifetime achievement. The award is accompanied by a ceremony at the end of the WOMEX conference, which will feature a performance by Umalali and the Garifuna Collective with Palacio as special guest. Umalali is a Garifuna women's project with a Duran-produced album to be released by Cumbancha in the spring 2008.
For more information on Andy Palacio and the album Wátina, visit www.cumbancha.com. Palacio is currently on tour in Europe and the U.S.