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James Lovell

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James Lovell is a Garifuna Artist who is very passionate about his heritage and is working diligently for the empowerment and advancement of the Garifuna people and culture. James believes the Garifuna children here in the United States of America can be proud of their heritage if the Garifuna art forms, such as dance, music, poems, books and drama are exposed in the mass media and on the world’s performing platforms. It is an honor to grace the pages of Garifuna Movement with James Lovell’s amorous works through the years and how he is keeping our Garifuna culture alive through his artistry, teachings and even through creating his own genre of Garifuna music called AfriGarifuna Rhythms.
James Lovell was born in the village of Mango Creek, but grew up in Dangriga Town, Belize, Central America. Born with the gift to sing, he had several opportunities to perform in elementary and high school talent shows in Belize and neighboring countries.

As a young aspiring musician, James was very much influenced by Pen Cayetano and the Turtle Shell Band. Pen Cayetano is the legendary “King of Punta Rock Music.” He is responsible for the creation of this new Garifuna genre since its inception into “mainstream” music in 1979. Punta Rock Music is contemporary Garifuna music that utilizes the shell of turtles and other percussion instruments to create a fast tempo music played with lyrics which addressed the political, social and economical issues of the people of Belize.

After graduating from Ecumenical High School in Dangriga Town, James joined the Belize Police Force Band, where he learned to play several instruments such as the guitar, bass guitar, clarinet, euphonium saxophone and keyboards. While in the Police Band, James took advanced correspondence courses from the Royal School of Music. He learned to read, write and to arrange musical compositions.

In 1990, James migrated to the United States. He put his music career on hold to join the United States Marine Corps. Four years later he received an honorable discharge.


In June 1995, James produced and released his first professional CD album entitled “Cabasan Numari” (who is going to be my wife). One of James’ song, was recorded by “La Tribu Garifuna,” a band from Honduras. Another band, “Estrellas Ubou” prerecorded James’ song, “HESIENTIBUNU,” (I’m in love with you). The album Cabasan Numari was well received in the Garifuna communities in Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, New York, Los Angeles, and other parts of the world.

James has produced and recorded three albums and is presently working on a bilingual children nursery rhymes album. He is currently working on the following projects:

• A Bilingual Nursery Rhymes Album
• Garifuna/English Nursery Rhymes Musical
• Garifuna Tap Punta- a dance production incorporating tap dancing and punta dance movements with Garifuna and Afrigarifuna Rhythms.

James has honed many of his special skills and talent as a vocalist, lyricist, composer, arranger, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, saxophone, Garifuna drums, djembe, recorder, Clarinet, and euphonium.


James is currently employed by the New York Board of Education, where he works with severely emotionally challenged elementary and high school students manifesting behavioral problems. He has brought out varying talents from each age group and encourages the students to dream, focus, work hard and succeed. He is continuously helping these children to feel proud of their efforts and has raised their self esteem.

When asked about his goals and aspirations as a Garifuna Artist, James replies, “To promote and procure the Garifuna culture music. To expose and introduce Garifuna music, a unique and different art form, which will add a new dimension to the music world.”

James has composed several songs that are loved, well known and well received by the Garifuna Communities. He is one Garifuna Artist who is determined to expose the Garifuna music, dance and language to the other cultures of the world. While his career has taken him to the educational setting, he has not strayed from his roots. He is presently educating the youths with the New York City Board of Education. He is frequently featured in many musical showcases, radio and television interviews in the United States and aboard. One thing we can be sure of, the name James Lovell, has just begun to be heard.


As a professional Garifuna Artist, James has performed in numerous settings in New York City and the Tri-State areas. He recently facilitated “Habinaha Garinagu” (Dance Garifuna) in Dangriga Belize, Central America, sponsored by the National Garifuna Council. He has been the Vice President and Musical Director for “Illagulei” since its inception.

In 1994, James became one of the co-creators and co-founder as well as the Musical Director of Illagulei (Roots), a Garifuna Cultural Performing Arts Company. Illagulei, is a non- profit, 501 © (3) tax exempt organization which utilizes performing arts for the preserving and uplifting of the Garifuna culture. James is the driving force in the company’s musical department. He is responsible for the formation and creation of Illagulei’s Children orchestra.

Under the leadership and sponsorship of the National Garifuna Council of Belize, who obtained two grants, the first from the World Band for Indigenous People Fund in July 19th through 25th 2005, and the second from UNESCO, August 4th through 23rd 2008, James was hired to facilitate both Garifuna Dance and Music Workshop in Dangriga Town, Belize, Central America. Classroom workshop activities included the teaching of Garifuna history, songs, music, drumming, and teaching basic music theory. The result of the workshop was the culmination of three professional productions. He organized, coordinated and managed the music section of the production including working the theatre crew with staging, sound as well as video coordination.


Afrigarifuna Rhythm is the fusion of the music from the vast musical genres of Africa and the music of the Garifuna People. The marriage of both culture’s music to sound as one rhythm, was the challenge that James Lovell encountered while experimenting with music from Africa and the traditional music of his Garifuna culture.
The Garifuna are descendants of Caribs, Arawaks and Africans (primarily from the region of West Africa) who intermarried with each other. The offspring of these cultures were called the Black Caribs or Garifuna. James was exposed to Garifuna music at an early age in Dangriga, which is considered the cultural mecca of Belize, where Pen Cayetano and the Turtle Shell Band composed songs addressing the social, political and racial issues facing the people of Belize. The Punta Rock fever quickly spread to Honduras, Guatemala and the United States.

In 1990, upon migrating to the United States, while attending concerts all over New York City, James came in direct contact with African music. Immediately recognizing the similarities of these new sounds and his traditional music, he began experimenting by playing the music alongside each other. Needless to say as a result of combining both patterns, new rhythms emerged, which he coined Afrigarifuna Rhythms.

In a nutshell, Afrigarifuna Rhythm is a by-product of the Garifuna and African music that are played together and is pleasing to the ear. This fusion is further enhanced by the utilization of African and Garifuna instruments.

Trammell Casimiro
Adira Cumberbatch
Mya Gordon
Jamie Lovell
Jazelle Lovell
Malek Ogaldez
Mikayla Palacio
Joshua Petillo
Myles Petillo

James Lovell and the Afrigarifuna Youth Ensemble is the brainchild of James Lovell. The members of JaLAYe (Nine children ages 6yrs to 14yrs) meet every Friday and Saturday and are taught the following subjects:

• Recorder other services include:
• Garifuna/African Drumology * Tutering
• Garifuna Music * Drum making & repairs
• Garifuna History * Photography
• Character Building * Videography/ Documentary
• Introductory Piano * Instructional videos
• Music theory * Arts/Craft
• Saxophone
• Dance, African/modern/interpretive

The mission of James Lovell and the Afrigarifuna Youth Ensemble (JaLAYE) is to provide an opportunity to the Garifuna American Children to connect with their culture. The Garifuna American children living in New York assimilate into a dominant culture and subsequently loose their culture. Hence, JaLAYE is that medium that provided the inter-connectedness to prevent and safeguard the Garifuna language which is gradually disappearing. The children in Afrigarifuna Youth Ensemble will be exposed to their culture and heritage through music, dance, arts, drama and the performing arts.


“Punta Rock is the contemporary Garifuna music that uses the Garifuna drums, maracas, turtle shell, and other instruments such as piano, woodwind, brass and string, which were adopted into the Garifuna music.”

Punta Rock is an offshoot or derivative of the traditional Punta, which is often performed during celebrations or festive occasions.”

“Punta Rock is the people’s voice or a medium, where the achievements or struggles of the Garinagu can be made public by utilizing the mass media.”

“Punta Rock is that African music which is called “Bunda” that verifies the connection of the Garifuna and Africa.”

“Punta Rock is the new genre of Garifuna music that was introduced to the world by Horace “Pen Cayetano and the Turtle Shell Band in 1980 at #5 Moho street in Dangriga Town, Belize, Central America.”

Short Biography of James Lovell
James Lovell, a Garifuna Performing Artist, Instrumentalist and Storyteller hailed from Belize Central America, resides in Brooklyn New York since 1990. As a child growing up in Dangriga which is considered the “Culture Capital of Belize,” where he was exposed to Garifuna Drums, songs and stories on a daily basis. He joined the Belize Police Band, where He learned to play several instruments such as the Guitar, Piano, Saxophone, Clarinet and Recorder. After over 25 years of performance of various Garifuna music genres, such as Punta, Paranda and Punta Rock, He coined the new genre, “Afrigarifuna Rhythms” into the world’s discography. James has been awarded numerous citations from the City and State level of New York for his contribution to the cultural fabric of the Garifuna Culture in New York, The United States of America and in other countries in the world. James is the Co-founder of “YuGaCuRe” {Yurumein Garifuna Cultural Retrieval}, the only program to date that is teaching the children and young adults in St Vincent and the Grenadines, to speak the Garifuna Language through music, dance and drumming. For Harborlore, James Lovell will be performing and telling the story of “SUPNIC” which is about a young Garifuna boy who won a fishing contest to prove his rites of passage from boy to man.