Honduran singer Aurelio Martinez has just given his UK debut performance after a year-long collaborative project with Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour as part of the Rolex Mentors and Protégés Programme. Martinez, 33, is Garifuna—descended from indigenous peoples and African slaves in the Caribbean. “To go back to Africa is a big deal,” he said of his trip to Senegal to work with Youssou.
Martinez, the thisislondon.com site reports, writes lyrical songs with rhythmic bounce, accompanied by guitars, shakers and some powerful percussion on a pair of upright drums. When he was selected for the Rolex scheme, he was already known to aficionados — his Garifuna Soul album of 2006 was highly praised. Sadly, the sound at the Union Chapel, where his first UK performance took place, was badly balanced. All the same, Martinez created a festive atmosphere with fizzing guitar duels and Garifuna drum solos.
His mum, too, had come over for the occasion. A traditional Garifuna singer, she received emotional praise from her son and joined him on stage to lead an unaccompanied song. It was an evening of exhilarating celebration of a star in the making.