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#472420 - 09/13/13 06:02 AM Artists Rebel To Aurelio’s Selection For BTB Video
Marty Offline
Last night, 7News showed you the debut of the long awaited promotional video for the rebranding of the Belize Tourism Board's marketing identity. It's part of their new campaign called, "Discover How To Be."

As we showed you, the video is built around "Santo Negro", a song from Honduran Aurelio Martinez. Since it made the news, there has been backlash from the public who have voiced their discontent that the BTB chose Martinez's song to highlight Belize, when he is of a different nationality - even though his song was recorded and produced in Belize by Benque Viejo's own Stonetree Records.

Today, we spoke to the Marketing Director of BTB who defended the decision saying that Martinez's music identifies with the Belizean culture:

Alyssa Carnegie, Marketing Director
"When we were choosing the music, we actually had several considerations. Of course being Belizean is one of them and the cultural component and the Garifuna culture is very strong. We thought it was very beautiful music and was also really well-known and so we thought well lets go with something that was Garifuna. But when we looked at the style of the video and we were thinking about what song would work best, we really tried different songs and it's not to say that we don't have talent here in Belize because we absolutely do.

When we tried different songs, this one really blended very well, the timing was exactly right, it gave us the kind of spirit we were after with the video and when we debut it to several people they thought it was wonderful. Internationally. This video was really meant to promote Belize to an audience that's maybe not as familiar, but when we saw the video we thought that this would be a really great opportunity to bridge that local audience with the international audience because I felt so proud of it. I thought we did a really great job in terms of bringing across what the Belize experience is and we thought Belizeans worldwide would feel that way.

When we looked at Aurelio, he's worked with the greats; Paul Nabor, Andy Palacio, his recordings are done here in Belize. He signed to Stone Tree Records which is a local company, a local label and he performs in Belize and internationally and he does a really great job at promoting Belize.

We felt it was less about the person and more about the music and more so the music that would help to get that story across about what the Belize picture is and we felt that this was a very genuine authentic and interested approach to getting that done. To tell you the truth, what the song was was more than an artist. It was not a conscious effort to promote someone foreign over a local. That was not the intention at all and I won't be put in a box to say that that was the intention. It just happen to be that he was born in Honduras but he is also an artist who produces music with a local recording company along with local artists, stalwarts and leaders in this cultural music revolution for Belize."

According to the Marketing Director, this is the first in a series of promotional material for their campaign, and they will take this reaction from the public under consideration when making different decisions on their material.

Channel 7

#472429 - 09/13/13 06:30 AM Re: Artists Rebel To Aurelio’s Selection For BTB Video [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Local artists complain that they were not featured in a new B.T.B. release: Be Belize

Belizean artists across all genres of music are tonight up in arms over a promotional video commissioned by the Belize Tourism Board, which premiered on national television on Wednesday evening.  While the video does an excellent job of showcasing Belize’s cultural diversity, it’s accompanying soundtrack, a Garifuna ballad performed by acclaimed parandero, Aurelio Martinez, has raised the ire of the artists.  Martinez, despite his popularity in the Jewel, doesn’t have Belizean birthright, and, since the idea of the production is to promote Belize as a tourist destination, the artist, it is claimed, is not befitting of the objective.  This morning, the talk show circuit was alive with reactions from a number of musicians who have taken offense to the selection.  News Five spoke with Leroy Green, a leading cultural enthusiast, who shared his objection to the choice of artist.

Leroy Green, Cultural Enthusiast

Leroy Green

“To be honest I am not one who usually joins in an uproar but when I heard the ad the first thing that crossed my mind when I heard the music choice was, “something is wrong here” because the ad is Be Belize.  We are promoting tourism in Belize and this is our month of national pride and national celebrations when this ad was launched and the music is not Belizean.  Something is definitely wrong there.  So I felt, to my mind the way I saw it was kind of a disrespect to our notable Belizean artists because there are quite a number of Belizean artists out there who have the quality and the stature to have been selected for an ad like that.”

Isani Cayetano

“Do you believe that this may have been a case where there was oversight on the part of those behind the production or was this deliberate to go with the music of an established artist as opposed to someone Belizean who may be up and coming or an established Belizean artist for that matter?”

Leroy Green

“I wouldn’t want to guess but when you say established Belizean artist we do have established Belizean artists also.  We have Andy Palacio, we have Paul Nabor, we have two entire productions by Francis Reneau and those productions have on selections which encompass not only one ethnic group but the entire Belize.”

Isani Cayetano

“What seems to be rather ironic is the fact that this particular production comes out of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture etc… No one seemed to have either raised an alarm and said let’s step back a bit and reconsider this song choice.  What are your opinions?”

Leroy Green

“My opinion is that my good friends here at NICH, they are definitely promoters of Belizean artists and all things Belizean so to my mind it’s kinda like a slap in the face for them, especially since they are part of the very same ministry.”

Isani Cayetano

“Have you gotten any feedback or response from other artists, Belizean artists for that matter who feel slighted that they were not given an opportunity to at least be a part of this production?”

Leroy Green

“Yes, but I won’t call any names. I must add that not only Belizean artists, people who are not artists have talked to me about it.”

Channel 5

#472755 - 09/18/13 06:28 AM Re: Artists Rebel To Aurelio’s Selection For BTB Video [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

THE AURELIO UPROAR, Amandala Editorial

The outraged Belizean reaction to the Belize Tourism Board’s decision to use the music of Honduran national, Aurelio Martinez, in a promotional video for Belize, must have come as a surprise to the stuffy BTB.

Aurelio is much loved in Belize, because he is such a nice guy, besides being a very gifted singer and dancer. That must have been why BTB thought they could get away with this outright disrespect to Belizean musicians. Mayhap the BTB does not remember how some Honduran musicians twenty-five years ago stole the Chico Ramos composition, “Conch’s Soup,” claimed Ramos’ original creation, and made a wad of money off it in the region.

The story is more complicated, and explosive, than that, however. BTB is one of the few organizations in Belize which has more cash flow than they know what to do with, and at the top they have forgotten where they came from. BTB does not have any socio-political credit with the masses of the Belizean people, because they have become aloof and snobbish. BTB has an “attitude.”

Another thing is that music is one of the few areas in Belize where there is a real nationalistic consciousness. This is mainly because of the sincere and diligent work of Tony Wright over the past two decades. Just a humble voice crying in the wilderness on KREM Radio for many years, Tony formed a small but loyal organization of Belizean artists. He has campaigned to protect the Belizean market for Belizean musicians and entertainers. All the BTB did with the Aurelio choice was make the Belizean people realize how totally relevant Tony Wright has been for so many years. The food the BTB fed Aurelio was food that belonged to Belizeans. Aurelio has his own food in Honduras.

Six plus decades ago, we Belizeans decided that we wanted to become our own country. We believed that we were unique and special, and we wanted to establish national separation from the countries around us. But we have never quite reached the stage of seriously looking out for each other. One of the reasons for our relative lack of nationalism has been our inability to rid ourselves of our colonial mentality, and another reason was that, compared to the countries around us, we had ready opportunities to migrate to the United States, the largest economy in the world.

At the same time, our borders were open, and we did not make a strong effort to close them. So, the self-governing Belize became a strange free-for-all, and later the independent Belize actually started selling our passports. The new financial Belizeans appeared to have more rights than we roots Belizeans had. We knew we had a Jewel, but we felt like outsiders in our own country.

It is time for the musicians and entertainers in Belize to form a union to protect their home market from decisions like the one the BTB made with Belizean taxpayers’ dollars. If a private promoter takes a chance with his money to bring in a foreign artist for a special promotion, that’s one thing. But when a Belizean statutory board does the same, then that is a different matter.

Belize for Belizeans.


#472846 - 09/19/13 06:06 AM Re: Artists Rebel To Aurelio’s Selection For BTB Video [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

BTB Backtracks On Aurelio Martinez Track, Says It Was A Mistake

One week ago, the Belize Tourism board had the local launch of its new "Discover How to Be" promotional video. It stirred quite a controversy because the music backing the video was an Aurelio Martinez song, "Santo Negro" - and he's a Honduran. Still, though, the song was conceived in Belize, recorded in Hopkins with mostly Belizean musicians, a Belizean producer and on the premier Belizean record label, Stonetree records. But all that didn't count for local artists who complained that they were passed over and disrespected; today the BTB backtracked and caved in to those pressures. It issued a statement 90 minutes ago saying, quote, "The Belize Tourism Board wishes to express…our sincere regret for the musical track chosen for the "Discover How To Be" Belize promotional video. We are deeply saddened that our decision was the cause of such public concern as it was never our intention to disrespect or offend our own talented musicians." End quote.

The statement continues, quote, "In selecting the track, we placed our emphasis on finding a culturally relevant piece of music created, recorded and produced in Belize that blended seamlessly with the timing and tempo of the video." End quote.

The release closes by quote, "(assuring) all Belizeans that, going forward, we will collaborate more closely with local artists." It adds apologetically, "We have learned from this…and remain steadfast in our commitment to promote an authentic Belize experience…" End quote.

Martinez, a Garifuna from La Ceiba - who has close ties to Belize - happens to be in the country right now but declined an interview.

Channel 7

#472950 - 09/20/13 06:36 AM Re: Artists Rebel To Aurelio’s Selection For BTB Video [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Did Belize Tourism Board Need to Apologizes for Song Choice on Promotional Video?, from the Ambergris Today:

I believe that the BTB took the high ground in issuing an apology, but I do not think that it was all necessary for them to do so or for them to be pushed to do so. There should not be any issue with them choosing Aurelio Martinez’s song for the video. Aurelio and his music are very much Belizean; he has chosen to make Belize one of his homes, has been a very productive citizen of this country and contributed tremendously in developing and promoting Belizean music through his work with the Garifuna Collective and the late Andy Palacio.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the Ambergris Today

#472963 - 09/20/13 07:10 AM Re: Artists Rebel To Aurelio’s Selection For BTB Video [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

BSCAP questions licensing of Aurelio Martinez song in BTB ad

Last week we brought you the controversy surrounding the usage of a song by Honduras’ Aurelio Martinez in international advertisements promoting Belize by the Belize Tourism Board (BTB). While the Board is sticking to its guns, the Belizean Society of Composers, Artists and Promoters (BSCAP) hit the issue from a different angle this week. In a press release, BSCAP says it supports the licensing of all music used in advertisements whether local or foreign, and says that if the BTB properly licensed the song then it has shown its obligation to follow that course in all business-related activities.  The organization says “It will continue to aggressively work to license all businesses, broadcasters and events that publicly perform/broadcast music, so that our musicians can derive a financial benefit from the commercial exploitation of their works.  This way, regardless of whether local or foreign musicians are used in ads, our local musicians will still receive just compensation from the public performance of their music throughout the country via the countless other mediums that currently use their music without permission or payment to the musicians (e.g., restaurants, hotels, clubs, radio, TV, etc.).


#473055 - 09/21/13 06:12 AM Re: Artists Rebel To Aurelio’s Selection For BTB Video [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Ivan Duran: Aurelio’s Work Is Belizean

Aurelio Martinez got a major putdown this week when the Belize Tourism Board apologized for choosing his song as the backing music for its own promotional video.

Well yesterday, the record producer Belizean Ivan Duran sounded off on facebook about the decision. He says , quote, "I'm really saddened to see some Belizeans treat Aurelio as a foreigner, Aurelio has done a lot to promote Belize and Garifuna culture throughout the world and he has been a key player, along with Andy Palacio and Paul Nabor in internationalizing the new 'sound of Belize.'" Duran adds, "Aurelio, is in great part responsible for "saving" Paranda music in Belize...Aurelio has always been treated as a distinguished honorary citizen of this country and he has always represented us proudly." And, Duran concludes,

"The song is question was recorded and produced in Belize, with Belizean musicians, sound engineers and music producers, furthermore, the copyright of this recording is owned by a Belizean record company. This recording is 100% Belizean, not only because of who owns the rights, but also because it represents an authentic Belizean sound which was conceived and created in Belize." Duran closes with a question,

"Is the song Belizean? The answer is yes. Does it sound Belizean? The answer again is yes."

Martinez, who is presently in Belize and met with the Minister of Tourism on Wednesday, is, we are told, deeply hurt by the public uproar over the use of his song "Santo Negro." He declined an interview.

Channel 7

#473187 - 09/23/13 06:14 AM Re: Artists Rebel To Aurelio’s Selection For BTB Video [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Belizean Music is Belizean Music is Belizean Music

It’s no secret we’re major fans of the unique, dynamic, vibrant and at times controversial Belizean arts scene, and for some of us, our focus is on Belizean music.

From Brukdown to Punta Rock and everything in between, Belize provides an aural smorgasbord that’s a feast for the senses. No matter the mood, from Friday-night-I-just-got-paid  jump up to why’d s/he have to leave me, from the exuberant to the reflective, there’s something in the vast Belizean catalogue to suit everyone and any moment.

Just like the Blues greats such as Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and Buddy Guy, Paranda musicians stir something deep inside. Paul Nabor’s Naguya Ne (I am Moving On) just seems to get more poignant and soulful with each listen, and the younger Aurelio Martinez is carrying on that soulful tradition. He’s an artist that stays true to the form yet is instantly recognisable for his own distinctive style.

So it was a pleasure to hear that the Belize Tourism Board, aka the BTB, selected one of his songs, “Santo Negro”, as the backing track for its promotional video. Great decision I thought, as I sat back, closed my eyes and savoured it again. Yes, this evokes Belize to someone who knows and loves it, and is a wonderful introduction to the country for others.

Then a few days later, with considerably less pleasure, I heard of the controversy about the selection.

Several Belizean musicians and others raised their voices to protest the selection because Aurelio was not born in Belize, and, in their opinion, therefore should not have been chosen to represent Belize.

At first, I dismissed the protests out of hand. After all, I always vaguely knew that Aurelio was born in Honduras, but it never once occurred to me that his music was anything other than Belizean. Specifically Garifuna, and just like listening to the late great Andy Palacio, Paul Nabor or the up-and-coming Garifuna Collective currently taking the world by storm, I am instantly transported to Belize when I hear him. It never occurred to me that Aurelio’s music was anything other than Belizean.

For true.

After settling down a bit and looking at it from the protestors’ point of view, I could understand them. Not agree, mind you, but understand. Music, like all art forms in Belize (and anywhere, for that matter) is a hard dollar. You got to love doing it, ‘cause you’re certainly not in it for the money. And listening to the other artists’ complaints, I could understand why they would feel the way they do.

But speaking strictly as a lover of Belizean music, and in no other context, my feelings are:

  • Garifuna music knows no boundaries. Belize is the most harmonious mixture of humanity on the planet. That’s one of the most amazing, beautiful aspects of Belize, and of Belizean music. Culture and people flow across the borders of Belize, adding spice to the richness of this marvellous melting pot.
  • “Santo Negro” was conceived and written in Belize
  • The song was recorded and produced in Belize by a Belizean company using Belizean musicians, sound engineers and other personnel.
  • Regardless of where he was born, Aurelio’s flavour is, to me at least, as Belizean as that of Beliken Beer.

Ivan Duran, who for as long as I can remember has owned Stonetree Records in Benque Viejo del Carmen in Belize, and who, with no hint of exaggeration or hyperbole, has tirelessly travelled the world promoting Belizean music, reckons “Santo Negro” is a  Belizean song. I know from personal experience that this is someone with a true love of Belizean music, who is in the business fully aware that he is never going to get rich, or even compensated for the number of hours he spends in putting Belize on the world music map. Don’t take my word for it, check out Stonetree Records’ catalogue. This is indeed a labour of love.

This is what Ivan had to say about “Santo Negro”;

“This recording is 100% Belizean…  it represents an authentic Belizean sound which was conceived and created in Belize.

“Is the song Belizean? The answer is yes. Does it sound Belizean? The answer again is yes.”

I’m willing to accept Ivan’s experience here, but more importantly, what my own ears and soul tells me. When I hear “Santo Negro”, I hear Belize.

The word is that Aurelio is deeply disturbed and hurt by the controversy. No wonder. He’s a sensitive guy (just listen to his songs) and obviously loves Belize as much as any Belizean.

Again, I do understand both sides of the controversy, and know what it’s like to work hard for something your entire life and barely get by doing it. But I must say that I love “Santo Negro” and am sorry to hear about the controversy, especially right now as the Garifuna Collective is out there on the world stage introducing so many people to the beauty of Belizean music.

It’s wonderful that the world is learning that in addition to stunning scenery and the warmest, friendliest people you’ll find anywhere, Belize also offers a vibrant arts scene, world class events like the Belize international Film Festival, and the most diverse, soulful collection of music to come out of any country, and especially one so small with less than 350,000 inhabitants.

Also, the BTB has said that it will be using a variety of Belizean artists and musicians in the future, so really, we expect that many more wonderful Belizean musicians will get the exposure they so richly deserve.

And in that respect, we’ll  give Alyssa Carnegie, BTB’s Marketing Director, the last word about the selection.  Alyssa said,

“We felt it was less about the person and more about the music and more so the music that would help to get that story across about what the Belize picture is and we felt that this was a very genuine authentic and interested approach to getting that done.

“It just happen to be that he was born in Honduras but he is also an artist who produces music with a local recording company along with local artists, stalwarts and leaders in this cultural music revolution for Belize.”

We agree, and in closing want to say thank you not only to  Aurelio, but to all Belizean musicians and artists who continue to make our lives that much richer for your contributions.

One Love.

Chaa Creek blog


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