© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Music Of Honduran Singer Aurelio Rooted In Uplifting, Preserving His Culture

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

You know you've made it when you can go by just one name. And that's what happened to Aurelio Martinez, or just Aurelio. He came on the music scene 10 years ago blending Caribbean folk pop and cultural activism. His new album is called "Landini," and our reviewer Banning Eyre is impressed.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SANANARU")

AURELIO: (Singing in foreign language).

BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: Aurelio has been a rock star on the local scene, the first black member of the Honduran National Congress and now a global music phenomenon with a voice for the ages.

(SOUNDBITE OF ALBUM, "LANDINI")

AURELIO: (Singing in foreign language).

EYRE: It all starts with that voice - searing and raspy, bursting with exuberance and moral authority. The title, "Landini," means landing. It refers to the landings where Caribbean fishermen used to bring in their boats. As a child, Aurelio would watch them gather in the evenings to sing folk songs, an inspiration that shaped his life.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NANDO")

AURELIO: (Singing in foreign language).

EYRE: Aurelio is a Garifuna, a descendent of West African slaves and indigenous Caribbean natives. Today, the Garifuna are a marginalized minority in Central America. Aurelio's music and his political activities have always been rooted in a passion for uplifting and preserving Garifuna culture.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIRUN WEYU")

AURELIO: (Singing in foreign language).

EYRE: These songs tell stories, often about deaths, separations, boats lost at sea. This one, "Lirun Weyu," has the cheerful lope of Colombian cumbia, but the title translates to "Sad Day."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIRUN WEYU")

AURELIO: (Singing in foreign language).

EYRE: Aurelio dedicates this album to his mother, Maria, who sang to him from birth. Maria even wrote one song here, "Irawini" or "Midnight."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IRAWINI")

AURELIO: (Singing in foreign language).

EYRE: It expresses the worry she felt hearing the sound of Aurelio playing guitar at a distant party and waiting for him to come home. Well, her wait is over. With "Landini," Aurelio has come home to his country, his people and the deepest source of his singularly moving artistry.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IRAWINI")

SIEGEL: Banning Eyre is senior editor at afropop.org. He reviewed "Landini" by Aurelio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Banning Eyre