Connect to share and comment

Crooning of the beauty of Honduras

Singer-songwriter Polache got his start pointing out the beauty of his home country. But an impromptu duet could lead to his fall.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Singer-songwriter Polache got his start with a rousing anthem urging Hondurans to take pride in their nation, which is often stereotyped as a backward and unstable Banana Republic.

But just as Polache’s career was taking off, Honduras revealed its dark side. In June, the army, with the backing of many business leaders, overthrew Manuel Zelaya, the country’s left-wing president.

Polache suddenly found himself blacklisted by much of the pro-coup Honduran media. His sin? Polache once sang an impromptu duet with Zelaya that was broadcast on national television.

“This year has been a rollercoaster and I’m at a low point,” Polache said in an interview. “The situation is very difficult. The people behind the coup got away with it.”

Honduran singer Polache.
(Courtesy of the artist)

Polache is the stage name of 32-year-old Paul Hughes. The moniker combines his first name with the Spanish pronunciation of the initial letter of his last name.

Born to an English father and a Honduran mother, Polache began playing guitar when he was 9. But he didn’t think he could make a living as a musician so, after university, he took a job with an ad agency in the northern city of San Pedro Sula.

There, Polache was chosen to compose the music for an ad campaign promoting Honduras and the result, "Mira a Honduras" or “Look at Honduras,” became a surprise hit. In the song, Polache points out that besides political corruption, gang wars and poverty, Honduras is home to great natural beauty and honest, hardworking people.

“This is a country with low self-esteem,” Polache said. “I wanted to write a song that said: Even if we have thousands of problems, we have many good things that need to be recognized.”

The success of "Mira a Honduras" led to a television program in which Polache traveled the backroads, strumming his guitar and singing with the locals — like an old-fashioned troubadour.

Polache grew up listening to U.S. and British pop music. But he later came to believe that too many Honduran tastes — from fast food to popular music — were imported. “My music tries to promote all that’s catracho,” he said, using a slang term for Honduran.