Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me is a stunning collaboration between a revered Canadian troubadour, an innovative Belizean producer and some of the top musicians in the respected Garifuna music scene of Central America.
Danny Michel first fell in love with the Central American country of Belize 15 years ago when he traveled there for a break from a cold Canada winter. What started as a vacation from the grind of touring and recording changed Michel s life and led him down a long and winding road towards the creation of Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me.
During his prolific career Michel s style has ranged from power pop and alternative rock to singer-songwriter fare, leading him to be compared to everyone from Paul Simon to Elvis Costello. His albums have led to multiple Juno Award nominations (the Canadian equivalent of the GRAMMY) including one for New Artist of the Year in 2004.
After many years of traveling to Belize, in 2011 Michel reached out to Belizean producer Ivan Duran to explore the possibilities of working together. Duran, who runs the recording studio and record label Stonetree, is well known in world music circles for bringing Garifuna music to wider international audiences.
Danny Michel traveled the pot-holed roads by bus from the Caribbean coast to Benque Viejo, the inland town lying in the shadows of the Xunantunich Mayan ruins where Stonetree is based, with no guitar, no songs, and no expectations. Michel recalls, "I was terrified. I went down and walked into a room full of strangers who are all sitting there thinking who the hell is this guy. It was really intimidating. But it was absolutely incredible that I was welcomed with open arms."
Danny brought some songs, lyrics and arrangements, while The Garifuna Collective brought the powerful rhythms, melodies and instruments of their heritage.
An 8-song version of Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me was released in Canada by Six Shooter Records in the fall of 2012 and it immediately received tremendous accolades. Renowned critic and former editor of Billboard Larry LeBlanc called it "One of the finest musical works of our time. A career album. Now Magazine exclaimed It s a fun and uplifting listen, bursting with acoustic and electric guitar, saxophones, organic, rich backup vocals and tons of Garifuna percussion. The obvious comparison is Paul Simon s Graceland, but there are also moments of heavier Talking Heads-like funk. And Toronto weekly The Grid called the album A blend of folky grit and tropical rhythms, nestled somewhere in between the rootsy vibes of Bedouin Soundclash and the slick funk of English singer-songwriter Charlie Winston. However you want to define the genre, this combination works. The album was nominated for a Juno for Best World Music Album.
For the international release, Michel returned to Belize to record three new tracks, the funky Behind the Waterfall, the rousing anthem Sad and Beautiful World and the moving This Is What Is, which features the voice of Paul Nabor, the 83-year old Garifuna legend. These songs join What Colour Are You? a catchy riff on perceptions and attitudes, the irresistible grooves of The First Night and the earthy beats of Survivor s Guilt among other gems.
The release of Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me coincides with the launch of the new album Ayó by The Garifuna Collective, their first since front man Andy Palacio passed away suddenly in 2008. Fans of Danny Michel can discover the roots of his inspiration with this magical album whose songs of heartbreak, hope and joy will take
your breath away.
One of the finest musical works of our time. --Larry LeBlanc
A blend of folky grit and tropical rhythms, nestled some- where in between the rootsy vibes of Bedouin Soundclash and the slick funk of English singer-songwriter Charlie Winston. However you want to define the genre, this combination works. --The Grid
The rootsy pop of prolific Canadian singer-songwriter Danny Michel has earned him a large and loyal following. [The Garifuna Collective] are a group of musicians from Belize, and the album was recorded on their home turf. The resulting fusion of Western pop and world music brings Paul Simon's Graceland to mind. For those us who can't afford a winter vacation in Central America, this gem is a lovely musical substitute. --Exclaim!