Earlier today, the Garifuna Collective and the Umalali Women’s Choir left for the U.S on tour. The group of more than thirty powerful voices from Guatemala, Honduras and Belize, have been keeping the Garifuna culture alive though a blend of their traditional music with modern influences. But they have been facing a challenging time and even as they embarked on tour today, the group is experiencing financial constraints. The band is picking up the tab for the entire trip which is close to twenty-thousand U.S dollars and has had to reduce the number of band members. But although the entire contingent is unable to make it, the few who were going were ready to perform.

Joshua Arana, Member of Garifuna Collective

“The group is going to be performing at a number of festivals, first in North Carolina, we uh, the first show is tomorrow and then we move on to Lafayette, Louisiana. We have a date set in um Philadelphia and then back to North Carolina.”

Andrea Polanco

Joshua Arana

“In terms of the festival, do you get to maybe participate with other performers from across and around the world?”

Joshua Arana

“Oh yes one of the things that I look forward to is something called workshops. For the workshops you have five bands that play on the same stage and each band does a piece and at the end all the bands join in and play a piece from each one of the bands.”

Andrea Polanco

“So it’s also a learning experience for you all?”

Joshua Arana

“It’s definitely a learning experience.”

Desiree Diego

Desiree Diego, Lead Singer of the Band

“I look out for a lot of things and basically what you looking out fah you get from the people who come out and show that they appreaciate what we have to offer them as Garinagu and as from Belize.”

Andrea Polanco

“What do you expect from this upcoming festival?”

Joshua Arana

“The reception has always been amazing, has always been great. People appreciate the music, people love the music and people enjoy the stories that we have to share.”

Desiree Diego

“I am looking forward to it and promise to do my best and represent Belize to the very best.”

The group is expected to return to Belize in the next three weeks after which they will be preparing for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Peace Corps in Washington D.C.

Channel 5