GAR�FUNA KIDS: The Garifuna Youth Music Sensation

By Jose Francisco Avil

When it comes to Garifuna Music in New York City, the biggest Punta Rock sensation of the late 80s and early 90s was a group by the name of Garifuna Kids, made up of first generation Garifuna-Americans! 


GARIFUNA KIDS was a musical group made up of  Honduran and  Guatemalan young men. The group was formed in 1988 motivated by the artistic intersts of   Felix Zapata "Linky", the music director, Heriberto Gregorio "Big Ed", Jorge Guerrero "Cocoman" Benigno Guerrero, Jr. "Big June", and Julian R�chez.


GARIFUNA KIDS achieved what no other Garifuna musical group has achieved; they garnered unprecedented attention in the U.S. English-speaking market, the acclaim of diverse audiences in three Central American countries, interviews with the presidents and executives of firms such as Motown, SONY Records and MCA, and a distribution spot at Tower Records in New York City.


They toured the U.S.-based Gar�funa communities circuit in Houston, New Orleans, Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington, Tijuana, Montreal, and Miami; they toured Central America and performed with special performances for Dr. �lvaro Arz�, president of Guatemala, and the Right Honorable Manuel Esquivel, Prime Minister of Belize. They shared the spotlight with stars of the magnitude of Johnny Ventura, Cuco Valoy, El Grupo Niche, Resorte, Adalberto Mart�nez, H�ctor Su�rez, Bronco, and Rosa Gloria Chagoy�n. During these years; they performed at universities, high schools, parades and civic events, culminating in a gig at Manhattan's renowned SOB's (Sounds of Brazil).


During its humble beginnings,  the group did not have a name, nor their own musical instruments and equipment. Therefore, they resorted to exisitng groups, including  Tribu Garifuna, Fuerza Brava  and Grupo H, to seek the musical knowledge they longed.  The groups collaborated with them, in particular GRUPO H, and it was one of its member by the name of Jos� Luis, who noticing their skills and talent, baptized them with the name of GARIFUNA KIDS!


In 1992 Felix "Linky" Zapata  and Heriberto "Big Ed" Gregorio sought the support of German R�chez through his cousin Ethel Chamorro to help them  reach the Garifuna community. German invited  his brothers Dennis, C�sar, Jorge, Giovanni and founded ROCHEZ BROTHERS ENTERTAINMENT, INC. and officially assumed management of the group. Among the people who played a key role in the sucess of the group were Mr. Felipe Reyes, owner of "La Terraza 2", the biggest disco in The Bronx at the time, and Mr Jake Rinaldo, a Sound Engineer.


In December 1993 Garifuna Kids recorded their first album entitled "Baila Baila"  that swept  the parks, social clubs and homes of "Little Honduras," in the Bronx, became a hit in Honduras, Belize and parts of Guatemala and, over the next two years, it became the most popular recording ever in the history of Gar�funa music. In November 1995 they released their second volume entitled Garifunizando America which followed on the tracks of the first one and became a hit.   (Click on ink to purchase)


Through sheer sacrifice and enormous talent, Garifuna Kids managed to position themselves as goodwill ambassadors of Gar�funa culture to the world at large. Audiences and international critics dubbed GARIFUNA KIDS "The Crown Princes of Punta Rock". They were indeed, the biggest Punta Rock sensation of the late 80s and early 90s. 


Eventually, the young men grew up, parted with their original producers and moved along, some to form other bands and others to other professions. During the next months, we will bring you stories about the former members and what they are up to these days.


Source: Rochez Brothers Entertainment, Inc.

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