The Garifuna Collective was co-founded and led by the late Andy Palacio (1960–2008), a musician dedicated to preserving the unique Garifuna language and culture. Today this group of accomplished, multi-generational Garifuna artists continues to tour and perform in Palacio’s memory and with his commitment to keeping Garifuna tradition and language alive against their threatened extinction. The hybrid culture of the African-Amerindian Garifuna communities, located on the Caribbean coasts of Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras, is influenced by West Africa and indigenous Carib, as well as the Arawak Indian language. Garifuna music has gained a following in the form of a less traditional style known as punta rock, but the Garifuna Collective focuses on the roots of Garifuna tradition, adding contemporary elements to traditional forms to bring the soul of this music into a modern context.
Through their music, the Collective aims to portray what it means to be Garifuna. The Garifuna Collective traces its roots to the early 1980s, when the teenaged Andy Palacio traveled from his home in the Central American country of Belize to serve in a literacy campaign in Nicaragua. Palacio was Garifuna, and at the time Nicaragua's local Garifuna traditions and language were all but extinct. This cultural disappearance was a tragic reality foreshadowing what was bound to happen in Belize less than a generation down the road. Palacio's music, career, and life mission were an extension of this campaign, centered upon the preservation and revitalization of the Garifuna legacy.
The Garifuna Collective has performed in over 30 countries in 5 continents and have been part of the most celebrated Garifuna albums of all time, including the critically acclaimed Wátina, recipient of the Womex and BBC World Music Award and voted by Amazon as the Number One World Music Album of All Time.