• In this Central American nation of fewer than 500,000 people, music comes from all walks of life. Borrowing from Mayan, African, Caribbean and European cultures, genres like punta rock and soca thrive. Here we explore the pioneers of the Belizean sound and those that are propelling it into the future.

     

    Andy Palacio

    Andy Palacio is Belize’s patron saint of popular music. In his short life – he died of a stroke at age 48 in 2008 – he created new genres by blending traditional Garífunda sounds with the cornucopia of punta rock. He founded the Garífunda Music Collective and is considered a trailblazer in Belizean art.

     

    Lova Boy

    He might look like crunk king Lil Jon, but Lova Boy is pure calypso. His songs are all about throwing caution to the wind and shaking your cares away. His music employs foot-stomping percussion and atonement— as a troubled youth, the artist also known as Daniel Cacho got involved with the Bloods in Los Angeles and was thrust back and forth between there and the impoverished Dangriga in Belize. After cleaning up his act, he received advice from Jay Z, doubled down on his work and grew a following in his home country. His latest album is 2013’s Victorious.

     

    Melonie Gillett

    “My hips come alive,” the hypnotic dance music artist sings in “Soca Mode,” a love letter to the Caribbean style. The pulse-pounder demonstrates just one aspect of her talents— further exploration of the 31-year-old’s catalog leads to Sade-like tropicalia and diva-inspired ballads. Her latest album, The Dreamer, is a living fairy tale.

     

    Denise Castillo

    This reggae and R&B vocalist collects awards like Imelda Marcos collected shoes. Thanks to her cool performances and laidback vibe, she has grown from a local Belizean artist to an international act to watch out for. Jams like “Nah Let Go” have a swirl of Rihanna and Lily Allen to them, reveling in a youthful, coquettish spirit.

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