Stripped bare but for flute, rattles, rasp, gourd, clay wind whistle, clay pot percussion and vocals Ongtupqa Sacred Music of the Hopi Tribe more than fills Grand Canyon National Park’s Desert View Watchtower where it was recorded during a single night with no second takes.
Set for release on July 26th on the ARC Music label, Ongtupqa is a precious listen into sacred Hopi song by way of Clark Tenakhongva, a Hopi Third Mesa traditional singer, Gary Stroutsos, a Seattle, Washington based flutist and composer and Matthew Nelson, an ethnomusicologist, host of Tucson’s KXCI’s program Global Rhythm Radio and the trio’s clay pot percussionist.
On this recording where a flute might sound like the call of a bird or a gust of wind, where a voice might summon up memories of the rush of a storm or an ancestor’s call from the distant past and the gentle thudding percussion of a clay pot might suggest the distant rumble of thunder or the rustle of a footstep on the path, Ongtupqa firmly and squarely roots listeners to the earth and sky in this elegant call into the wild in the hopes it will stay that way. Ongtupqa is spiritually soulful and intensely meditative with not a hint of modern New Age frippery.
Ongtupqa takes listeners through spare, beautiful tracks like “Butterfly Clouds,” the flute instrumental “Place of Emergence” and Mr. Tenakhongva ‘s song about the flight of the butterflies among the watermelon flowers on “Butterflies Are Free” before launching into the truly stunning pairing of “Rolling Thunder” and “Rain of Life.”
There’s also the vocal and rattle centered “Thank You My Fathers,” the lovely haunting solo flute of the Mr. Stroutsos composition “Vasey’s Paradise” and the lovely “Raindrops” to lure listeners.
Ongtupqa’s stunningly powerful serenity glides in on a voice, a breath passing over a flute, the rasp of a rattle and fingertips against a clay pot. Beautiful.
Robert “Tree” Cody (also known in the Maricopa language as Oou-Kas Mah Quet or “Thunder Bear”) was born April 20, 1951 in Los Angeles, California. He is a Native American flutist, dancer, artist, educator and actor who has performed throughout the United States, continental Europe, Canada, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, East Asia, Central & South America and Mexico
As an enrolled member of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Community and of Dakota heritage, Cody shares his knowledge of Native American culture, song, dance and music as a performer and invited lecturer at concert halls, universities, museums, schools, and colleges throughout the world.
A versatile flute player and a gifted singer, Cody has eight albums on the Canyon Records label. His most recent album, Crossroads, brings together for the first time, the music of the native people of the Great Plains and Mexico. This recording teams him with Mayan flutist Xavier Quijas Yxayotl (Huichol). Native Flamenco, fuses the Native American cedar flute with flamenco guitar and ethnic percussion into a hot lively sound. Guitarist, Ruben Romero, and percussionist, Tony Redhouse, perform with him on this groundbreaking recording.
Maze, travels a musical journey through the Southwest. Set prior to European arrival to Turtle Island, a wanderer of the North travels and meets the nations of the Southwest. Maze was a Native American Music Awards winner as Best New Age Album of 1999, and it’s track “The Bird Song” was a finalist as Best Song of the Year.
In 1999, Cody appeared as a featured guest artist on a Windham Hill modern jazz release by Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons.
Cody has a remarkable ability to communicate with people of all cultures. His knowledge of six Native American languages, in addition to English, Spanish and a bit of French and Japanese is useful when he travels abroad. Cody holds a special place in his heart for young people of all cultures, and generously gives with his time and many talents for people in need.
The winners of the 2018 Native American Music Awards were announced on Friday, October 12th, 2918. The 18th Annual Native American Music Awards (NAMA) was held in the Events Center at the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino in Niagara Falls, New York.
Event highlights included elder, actor Saginaw Grant, winner of Record of the Year for his spoken word contribution to “Don’t Let The Drums Go Silent;” Annie Humphrey who paid tribute to her late brother; and John Trudell, winner of the highly-coveted Artist of the Year; and pianist Connor Chee who performed with his 95 year-old grandfather Keith Chee and won Best New Age Instrumental Song their song, “Beginnings.”
One of the evening’s more touching moments was when The Pine Ridge Flute Society, a ten member group of High School students from the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation, won for Flutist of the Year. Jaydin Peters, grandson of the group’s teacher Will Peters, gave one of the evening’s more emotional acceptances saying, “Where we come from, a lot of people are struggling, and when we created the Flute Society, we were dealing with suicide ideations in our schools across the reservation. So playing the flute brought us all together as a community and an extended family to create this music so that people can have something to escape to and our homeland can be proud.”
The Native American Music Awards was originally formed in 1998 to provide greater inspiration to Native Youth living on reservations and to offer a national platform to showcase American Indian talent.
Among the evenings performers were Seneca Nation’s traditional female vocal group, Newtown Women Singers Society who appeared with red ribbons on their shirts in honor of #MMIW (Missing Murdered Indigenous Women). Many other artists also wore red ribbons as provided by performer Tracy Lee Nelson and his wife, along with spoken word artist Thana Redhawk. Lee, dedicated one of his songs to raise awareness on the issue with “Every Lady Has A Right”.
Hall of Famer, Mickie James presented this year’s Hall of Fame induction for the late Jesse Ed Davis. Jesse was one of the most highly regarded guitarists and session guitarists of the 1960s and 1970s. He appeared on over 100 albums and recordings and recorded and toured with Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart and the Faces. He also played country with Willie Nelson, soul with Marvin Gaye, blues with B.B. King, pop with Neil Diamond, and folk with Arlo Guthrie. Jesse’s first cousins Richenda Davis Bates and Constance Davis Carter accepted the induction.
Over 16,500 individual voters participated in the Award’s national voting campaign.
Robert Mirabal was born on October 6, 1966 in Taos Pueblo, New Mexico, USA.
“There’s always a flute player in every tribe. I never would have guessed it at the time but I’ve become that flute player,” says Robert Mirabal.
The tribe is the Taos Pueblo. The time was when Robert was 18 and he encountered for the first time the Native American flute. Now his handcrafted flutes are in the Smithsonian National Museum.
From the pow-wow auction where he saw that first flute to Japan, the UK and all the world, Robert plays with the noble purpose of honoring the land his family his ancestors and his tribe, who have occupied the same area of Northern New Mexico for over a thousand years.
While deeply aware of his heritage Robert looks at the responsibility universally: “I offer my work as a healing for the human spirit and a remembrance of why we are all here together.”
In addition to the music and instruments he creates, Robert is also a celebrated painter, poet and playwright. He is the author of A Skeleton of a Bridge, a book of poetry prose and short stories. He has lent his words and insights to several educational and documentary films, including two narrated by Robert Redford “Silent Witness” and “Sacred Sites.” He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts award and the New York Dance and Performer’s “Bessie” Award for composition.
Robert’s 2001 live album Music from a Painted Cave is also the title of a TV special of the same name that was broadcast by PBS.
Mirabal formed a band called Rare Tribal Mob that featured Robert Mirabal on vocals, flute, ocarina, percussion, didjeridu; Reynaldo Luján on tribal rhythms, vocals; Michael Kott on cello; Stev Castillo on guitars; Kenny Aronoff on drums, percussion; Star Nayea on vocals, percussion; Robin Peffer on bass; and Patrick Mirabal on vocals, flutes, percussion.
Nomad, with Nomad and Mor Thiam (1994)
Song Carrier (1995)
Land (1995) Warrior Magician (Silver Wave Records, 1996)
Native Suite, with Bill Miller (1996)
Native American Lullabies: Under The Green Corn Moon (1998) Taos Tales (Silver Wave Records, 1999) Music from a Painted Cave (Silver Wave Records, 2001)
Indians, Indians (2003)
Sacred Ground: A Tribute to Mother Earth (2005)
Johnny Whitehorse (Silver Wave Records, 2005)
Pueblo Christmas, with Patrick Mirabal (Silver Wave Records, 2007)
In the Blood (2007)
Johnny Whitehorse: Totemic Flute Chants (Silver Wave Records, 2007)
Johnny Whitehorse: Riders of the Healing Road (Silver Wave Records, 2007) The River (Innova, 2016)
The 17th Annual Native American Music Awards were held on Saturday, October 14th at the Events Center at Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino in Niagara Falls, New York. The Seneca Nation’s traditional female vocal group, Newtown Singers opened the award ceremony.
Next came the award-winning powwow drum group, Northern Cree, who delivered a vibrant vocal and hand drum performance.
Northern Cree was later joined by DJ Shub and his dubstep-influenced dance and electronica which took the entire segment from traditional into the future. Northern Cree won for Best Powwow Recording and shared their second win with DJ Shub for Best Music Video for the song, “Indomitable’ which was presented remotely by MTV’s Downtown Julie Brown.
Mickie James was inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame by actor Arthur Redcloud who appeared in the movie, The Revenant, with Leonardo DiCaprio. She also won for Single of the Year for “Shooting Blanks” and performed live three songs including her hit “Somebody’s Gonna Pay.”
Tony Duncan – Purify (Canyon Records CR-7209, 2017)
Purify is the new album by American Indian musician Tony Duncan. He plays peaceful, meditative music on cedar and cane flutes. The Apache River cane flute comes from his father’s side of the family, the San Carlos Apache in Arizona. The cedar flute tradition was transmitted through Tony’s mother. She’s from North Dakota, part of the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara tribes.
Although Purify features exclusively solo flute, Tony Duncan adds exquisite overdubs, adding mesmerizing echoing flutes, as a form of distant call and response.
The titles of the musical pieces give you an accurate sense of the album’s atmosphere: Purify, Meditation, Restoring Balance, Emergence, Healing Prayer, Reflection, Restore, Buffalo Sage, Medicine Dream, Creation, Our Hidden Journey, and Luminaria.
Native American flute player Mary Youngblood was born on June 24, 1958 in Kirkland, Washington. Mary has Aleut and Seminole ancestry. She is one of the first Native women to record this sacred instrument, a role that has traditionally limited to men. Classically trained on several instruments Mary Youngblood has been playing the flute for over two decades.
Youngblood has a lifetime of musicianship behind her, starting with piano lessons at age six and guitar at ten; she is also a renowned classically trained flutist.
As an adult, when Youngblood received her first wooden Native flute she was compelled to pursue this ancient instrument traditionally played only by men. She has been honored with numerous awards and furthers her craft and knowledge of music and her Native traditions through teaching.
Her 5th album Dance with the Wind came out on May 23 2006 on Silver Wave Records. Inspired by the wisdom of nature Mary writes: “The trees have given a voice to me the voice that sings to you now.” Her eclectic musical style evokes feelings of freedom and gratitude for the blessings of life.
“I am simply a vessel between Creator and this sacred instrument the Native American Flute. Listen with an open heart and you will hear the whispers of the Ancient Ones. May their timeless voices soothe your soul.”
The Offering (Silver Wave Records, 1998)
Heart of the World (Silver Wave Records, 1999) Beneath the Raven Moon (Silver Wave Records, 2002)
Feed the Fire (Silver Wave Records, 2004) Dance with the Wind (Silver Wave Records, 2006)
Sacred Place: A Mary Youngblood Collection (Silver Wave Records, 2008)
The Native American Music Awards & Association (NAMA) announced late last night that Award-winning Cheyenne musician and composer Joseph FireCrow died on Tuesday, July 11th, at his home in Winsted, Connecticut.
Jan Michael Looking Wolf (Kalapuya/Grande Ronde) remembers Joseph as a “beautiful human being filled with love and light” who enjoyed “coming together with other artists and giving thanks.”
Gary Small (Northern Cheyenne) states, “It’s a sad day to learn that my brother in arms has passed. Maheo’ bless Joe. I will miss you forever.”
Flutist Rona YellowRobe (Cree) called Joseph “gracious and wonderful…His smile was BIG and Beautiful and could light up your day.”
Cody Thomas Blackbird (Cherokee/Dakota) posted, “The world lost an amazing being, the music industry lost the greatest Native flutist and traditional musician to ever grace a stage, and I lost one of my best friends.”
Spencer Battiest (Seminole) shared, “My heart is heavy today to hear about the passing of my dear friend. Joseph’s gentle spirit and authentic approach taught me so much. I will forever be grateful for the times we’ve shared over the years, and I will keep you in my heart and on stage with me for life!”
Native American Music Awards President, Ellen Bello stated, “Joseph was one of the most humble and genuine artists from the Native music community. His big, beautiful smile, sincere kindness and undeniable talent touched and influenced everyone in his path. I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of our friend, Joseph from his wife Joann. Not only was he one of our leading Award winners, but even more than that, he was an incredible human being who was truly loved by all.”
At the 16th Annual Native American Music Awards last September 17, 2016 at Seneca Allegany Casino, Joseph FireCrow received a Lifetime Achievement Award honoring him as a leading American Indian singer-songwriter, flute player, vocalist and musician.
Calling/Viewing hours will be from 2 – 6 on Saturday, July 15, 2017 at Maloney Funeral Home. Address: 55 Walnut St, Winsted, CT 06098. Phone: (860) 379-3794. Services will began immediately thereafter. A private burial is at the convenience of the family.
Cards and memorial gifts can be sent directly to Joann at: PO Box 173, Winsted, CT 06098. In Lieu of flowers please send contributions and donations to: Northern Cheyenne Girls and Boys Club, P.O. Box 309, Lame Deer, MT 59043-0309.
Wayne Silas, Jr., an American Indian singer with Menominee and Oneida background, has recorded an original album where he mixes Native American pow-wow chants and round dance influences with contemporary forms. While traditional pow-wow albums stick to a specific format, Wayne Silas, Jr. uses chants in a fascinating fashion, adding choruses, a really cool vocoder-style voice modulator effect that works really well and some other enhancements.
Guests on Infinite Passion include Randall Paskemin, Leroy Whitstone, Marlon Deschamps, Dan Isaac, Conan Yellowbird, Jacob Faithful, Candace Gadwa and Veronica Keeswood.
On Infinite Passion, Wayne Silas, Jr. wonderfully bridges Native American tradition and modernity.
“It is incredible to see the beauty of the people on this earth the vast richness of humankind. All people have the same impulses spirits and goals.”- Kevin Locke
Considered the world’s pre-eminent Lakota traditional-style flute player and hoop dancer Tokeya Inajin (Kevin Locke) was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 199. His life’s work is both a bridge and a balance of the traditional and the modern. He is a recognized authority on his native culture tradition and language and has a Master’s of Arts degree from the University of South Dakota in Educational Administration.
A popular lecturer and storyteller working to ensure his cultural heritage survives and prospers. Locke has traveled to 45 countries from Canada to China from Australia to Africa to Europe sharing his vision of balance joy and diversity through music and dance. As he explains “through my music and dance I wish to give voice to the beauty of the land and to help define the role of the human sprit in relationship to the immensity of this infinite hoop of life.” His belief in the unity of humankind is reflected in his dancing. Kevin uses 28 hoops to tell a story depicting such things as flowers butterflies stars the sun and an eagle. The hoops represent unity while the colors of the hoops -black red yellow and white – represent the four directions four seasons four winds and the four races of humankind. Towards the end of the dance all 28 hoops are interlocked in a spherical shape as fragile as the balance he works for in human affairs.
Locke is both an artist and educator. As a world citizen striving to forge bonds of harmony his contributions to both professions are unique.
Kevin Locke is a member of the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota.