Garifuna singer Andy Palacio is in grave condition after apparently suffering a severe heart attack a few days ago. This afternoon I received the following message from Jacob Edgar, who owns Palacio’s American label Cumbancha, and Ivan Duran, the singer’s longtime producer and owner of the Belizean label Stonetree:

We’re deeply saddened to report that Andy Palacio has experienced what was apparently a severe heart attack and is in grave condition. He is currently on life support and the prognosis is not good. We are all hoping for a miracle and that Andy will regain consciousness, but at this point this does not seem likely.

Andy started feeling poorly a few days ago and visited a doctor with complaints of dizziness and blurred vision. On Thursday he began experiencing seizures and was rushed to a hospital in Belmopan, Belize and then on to another hospital in Belize City. The doctors initially thought Andy, who was still conscious and communicative at that time, had experienced a stroke, and were even diagnosing multiple sclerosis at one point. At this point, we were all hopeful Andy would recover.

Yesterday, Andy’s condition worsened and he began experiencing more seizures. Andy is a national icon in Belize, and the story of his illness has not only been big news there, the Prime Minister has been putting his full support behind Andy’s treatment. When Andy’s condition started to decline, he was placed on an air ambulance to Chicago where he was expected to get treatment at one of the premier neurological facilities in the country.

En route to Chicago, the plane stopped in Mobile, Alabama to clear immigration. At that point, Andy was unconscious and it was determined that he was too ill to continue on the flight to Chicago. Andy is currently in a hospital in Mobile, Alabama where he is in a coma. His cousin, Michael Polonio, is by his side and Andy’s daughters will be arriving shortly.

It is impossible to describe the pain we feel from this unfathomable tragedy. We will notify you if we hear any significant updates on Andy’s condition. In the meantime, keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

This news is doubly heartbreaking since the 47-year-old Palacio, a longtime proponent of a once-dying Garifuna culture, had experienced the greatest year in his career, far and away. His superb 2007 album Watina landed on loads of year-end best-of lists and finished atop Europe’s World Music chart, among many other distinctions. This past summer he played a fantastic concert in Millennium Park opening for (and blowing away) Carlinhos Brown.

UPDATE: Yesterday, January 19, Palacio passed away, after returning to Belize.

Today’s playlist:
Mellow Candle, Swaddling Songs (Acme)
Steve Noble, John Edwards, and Alan Wilkinson, Obliquity (Bo’ Weavil)
Organ Eye, Organ Eye (Staubgold)
Tamba Trio, Tamba Trio (Philips, Japan)
Art Fleury, I Luoghi del Potere (Die Schachtel)