Music in Belize
Music in Belize is as diverse as the population of Belize. Music is an important part of the Belize culture and has evolved over the years to the more modern music you hear around the world. Although Belize is influenced by the popular music of the world, there is still a strong cultural hold on the types of music that defines Belize as nation. An example of this music is the art of Drumming in Belize
Brukdown is a very popular modern style of Belizean music. It evolved out of the music and dance of loggers, especially a form called buru. Buru was often satirical in nature, and eventually grew more urban, accompanied by a donkey’s jawbone, drums and a banjo. The word brukdown may come from broken down calypso, referring to the similarities between brukdown and Trinidadian calypso music; the presence of large numbers of Jamaicans in Belize also led to an influence from mento music. In modern forms, new instruments have been added to brukdown. The “boom and chime groups” use bass guitar, electric guitar and congas, for example. Popular brukdown groups include The Tigers, The Mahogany Chips, Mimi Female Duet and Brad Pattico.
The Garifuna are descended from escaped Nigerian slaves and Island Caribs who were deported from St. Vincent to Central America (especially Honduras and also Belize) in 1802 by the British when they conquered St. Vincent. The Garifunas kept themselves apart from the social system then dominant, leading to a distinctive culture that developed throughout the 20th century.
Forms of Garifuna folk music and dance include chumba and hunguhungu, a circular dance in a three beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta. There are other songs typical to each gender, women having eremwu eu and abaimajani, rhythmic a cappella songs, and laremuna wadauman, men’s work songs. Other forms of dance music include matamuerte, gunchei, charikawi and sambai.
Belizean Punta (rock)
Belizean punta is distinctive from tradtional punta in that the language and concepts are more adapted to the general Belizean identity. Although most artist and bands are exclusively Garifuna, songs are usually in Kriol or Garifuna and rarely in Spanish, or English. While this style is unique, calypso and soca have had slight influences on it.
Like calypso, and soca, Belizean punta was used for both social commentary and risqué humor, though the initial wave of punta acts eschewed the former. Lord Rhaburn and the Cross Culture Band were intergral in the acceptance of punta by Belizeans (namely Kriols) by actually doing calypso songs about punta such as “Gumagrugu Watah” and “Punta Rock Eena Babylon”.
Modern Music in Belize
Belize’s musical base has expanded considerably in recent years with the addition of local reggae, hip-hop and jazz stars. Belize counts among its local reggae stars Dan Marcus I and Dan Man; various hip-hop groups often open for more accomplished international stars at local concerts, and there has even been a jazz revival, with an annual jazz festival and at least three popular jazz music programs on local radio. This surge in local music can be attributed in some ways to the international popularity of such television stations as BET and MTV , which present hip-hop as something to aspire to and admire. In addition, there has been a concerted effort to promote local music among the Belizean population, who have almost never been trained to favor their own music above others.