American Indian Pow Wow Trails, Evocative Flutes and Harmonized Vocals

Pow Wow music is one of the most popular categories of Native American music. Tha Tribe is a group led by singer and songmaker Wayne Silas Jr. (Menominee/Oneida), which is formed by some of the best performers from different nations. Blue Scout is the ninth recording by the drum group. The album features vigorous original pow-wow songs recorded "live" in Parker, Arizona.

The contrast in Native American music is intriguing. While many musicians focus on the warrior-like pow wow music, others follow the path of the meditative flute. Johnny Whitehorse is a mystical character created by musician Robert Mirabal (Taos Pueblo tribe) to showcase his ethereal conceptual aboriginal American flute music. His latest CD, the cinematic Totemic Flute Chants, includes Native American flute as well as keyboards, tribal drums, world music instruments and tribal chants. The twelve songs are in honor of Cougar, Coyote, Thunderbird, Emergence, Earth Mother, Serpent, Buffalo, Whale, Elk, Eagle, Bear, and Wolf.

Together with Mirabal, Grammy-winners Verdell Primeaux & Johnny Mike make some of the most fascinating original music in the Native American field. Their latest CD is "The Color of Morning, where they use harmonized vocal chants combined with Mayan flutes and percussion and ambient sounds. The guests on the captivating album are Xavier Quijas Yxayoti (Mayan double clay flute/ wind whistle/ death whistle/ clay bird whistle), Steven Butler (acoustic and electric guitar/ keyboards & programming) and Stephen Frailey (additional acoustic and electric guitars & programming). 

Robert Windpony has two recent CDs of solo American Indian-inspired flute music, Sky Blue and MoonRider. Unlike others who blend flute with new agey sounds, Windpony likes to play his flutes without any accompaniment. He uses Plains, Woodlands and Lakota flutes.

Hopi singer and percussionist Clark Tenakhongva honors his ancient heritage with a collection of new songs on Po’li -Traditional Songs of the Hopi. Po’li  (Hopi for "butterfly") includes ritualistic songs about Hopi life and culture, using chants, rattles and drum. Clark chose the title "Po’li" because of his maternal grandfather, George Sockhongva, who was of the Butterfly and Badger clan and had a great influence on his life. Tenakhongva was born at Keams Canyon, Arizona, in 1957 and hails from the village of Hoat ‘ve’la (Hotevilla), "Place of Cedars", on Third Mesa.

Peyote song recordings have become popular in recent years. Prayers for My Father – Harmonized Peyote Songs " is the first recording for Clinton Denny (Chippewa-Cree) with Canyon Records. From the famed Denny family of Montana, Clinton Denny (assisted by Gerald Primeaux, Sr.) sings original harmonized songs for the Native American Church in honor of his late father, Bill Denny, Jr.

For more of the intense pow wow music, The Blackfoot Confederacy has a new album, their third recording with Canyon Records, which is titled  Hear the Beat – Pow-Wow Songs Recorded Live at Ft. McDowell . Gathering singers from the Kainai, Siksika, Peigan and Blackfeet tribes, the Blackfoot Confederacy drum group is devoted to maintaining the traditional Blackfoot singing style.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites and 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.