Round dance songs have became one of the most popular genres within the American Indian and Aboriginal Canadian communities in North America. Round Dances were originally healing dances of the the Plains Cree people, but they quickly evolved into a social dance that has rapidly gained popularity at intertribal social events.
Round dances can be performed at pow-wows but can also be played separately. Some of the Canadian First Nations, play round dance songs at all night winter social gatherings.
The round dance is normally a triple beat song performed by either an individual singer on a hand drum or by groups of singers each playing a hand drum. The Cree of Canada add a finger nail rub to the back of the drum between drum beats to create a syncopated rasping sound that helps accent the dance rhythms. The round dance themes include romance, native pride and the bittersweet.
These are some of the most recent releases in the area of round dance songs:
Northern Cree – Temptations (Canyon Records CR-6443). The prolific multi-award winning pow-wow drum group Northern Cree of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in northern Saskatchewan and Alberta (Canada) is considered one of the finest acts in the North American pow-wow circuit. Their round dance songs album Temptations includes songs about first love, temptation and infatuation.
Pipestone – As the Rez Turns (Canyon Records CR-6471). Ojibwe band Pipestone is formed primarily by musicians from the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe (Chippewa) tribe in Wisconsin. Pipestone sings about love and life on the reservation with plenty of good humor.
Dearly and Denny – Love Hurts, Dude (Canyon Records CR-6480). Jeremy “Worm” Dearly (Lakota/Anishinabe) and Marcus Denny (Menominee) are two young singers who have penned many of the classic songs for the legendary Midnite Express drum group based in Minnesota. On Love Hurts, Dude they sing about modern romance with hilarious lyrics.
Sullivan & Day – Love, Lies & Lullabies (Canyon Records CR-6455). Ojibwe musicians Mike Sullivan, Sr. and Opie Day-Bedeau perform joyful and sentimental Round Dance songs in Ojibwe and English to the beat of the hand drum.
Wayne Silas, Jr. – Unconditional (Canyon Records CR-6466). Wayne Silas Jr. (Menominee/Oneida) is a renowned singer and the leader of Tha Tribe, one of the most popular bands in the pow-wow circuit. Unconditional is his debut solo Round Dance album. The album features well known performers, including Joe Syrette, Edmond Tate Nevaquaya, Jeremy “Worm” Dearly, Nitanis “Kit” Landry and Arianne Sheka. Wayne Silas describes bittersweet romantic situations and nostalgia with humor.
Glen Ahhaitty – No More Lies (Canyon Records CR-6463). Vocalist and composer Glen Ahhaitty from the Kiowa, Comanche and Cherokee tribes of Oklahoma played with the Bad Medicine and Rose Hill drum groups. He currently has his own group called the Oklahoma Outlaws. His round dance songs are dedicated to romance, reflection and redemption.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.