Tag Archives: R. Carlos Nakai

Artist Profiles: R. Carlos Nakai

R. Carlos Nakai

R. Carlos Nakai, of Navajo-Ute heritage, is the leading Native American flutist, having sold more than 3.5 million albums. He has received two gold records for Canyon Trilogy and Earth Spirit, the first American Indian recordings to earn this achievement. He has also garnered six Grammy nominations and numerous Native American Music Awards.

Originally a performer of the classical trumpet, Nakai was given a Native American flute and challenged to see what he could do with it. Mixing the traditions of his Native American heritage with an iconoclastic outlook, Nakai was on the cutting edge of the renaissance of indigenous American culture. Following his first release in 1983, Changes, he would go on to release more than thirty albums with Canyon Records plus additional albums and guest appearances on other labels.

In 2004, the R. Carlos Nakai Quartet released its fourth adventure in global native groove, People of Peace, featuring R. Carlos Nakai, vocalist Mary Redhouse, multi-instrumentalist AmoChip Dabney, and percussionist Will Clipman.

Mutual fans of one another’s musical careers, Keola Beamer and Nakai met when Nakai was organizing a workshop at Kalani Honua in Hawaii. Nakai wanted to include Hawaiian culture in the workshop and Beamer offered his services. Nakai approached Beamer to see if he would be interested in doing a musical collaboration mixing disparate cultures. The result is Our Beloved Land (2005).

Our Beloved Land features the sound of the Native American flute accompanied by the harmonies of the slack key guitar. Several songs also feature Beamer’s soulful vocal renditions of original and traditional Hawaiian songs.


Changes (Canyon Records, 1983)
Cycles (Canyon Records, 1985)
Journeys (Canyon Records, 1986)
Jackalope (Canyon Records, 1986)
Earth Spirit (Canyon Records, 1987)
Sundance Season (Celestial Harmonies, 1988)
Carry the Gift (Canyon Records, 1988)
Desert Dance (Celestial Harmonies, 1988)
Canyon Trilogy (Canyon Records, 1989)
Winter Dreams (Canyon Records, 1990)
Natives (Silver Wave Records, 1990)
Spirit Horses (Canyon Records, 1991)
Emergence: Songs of the Rainbow World (Canyon Records, 1992)
Ancestral Voices (Canyon Records, 1992)
Weavings (Canyon Records, 1992)
Migration (Silver Wave Records, 1992)
Boat People (A Musical Codex) (Canyon Records, 1993)
Dances With Rabbits (Canyon Records, 1993)
How the West Was Lost (Silver Wave Records, 1993s)
Honorable Sky (Silver Wave Records, 1994)
Native Tapestry (Canyon Records, 1994)
Island of Bows (Canyon Records, 1994)
Feather, Stone & Light (Canyon Records, 1995)
Awakening the Fire (Canyon Records, 1995)
How the West Was Lost Volume Two (Silver Wave Records, 1995)
Kokopelli’s Cafe (Canyon Records, 1996)
Improvisations in Concert (Silver Wave Records, 1996)
Two World Concerto (Canyon Records, 1997)
Inside Canyon de Chelly (Canyon Records, 1997)
Mythic Dreamer (Canyon Records, 1998)
Red Wind (Canyon Records, 1998)
Winds of Devotion (EarthSea Records, 1998)
Inside Monument Valley (Canyon Records, 1999)
Inner Voices (Canyon Records, 1999)
Big Medicine (Canyon Records, 1999)
Ancient Future (Canyon Records, 2000) t
In a Distant Place (Canyon Records, 2000)
Edge of the Century (Canyon Records, 2001)
ETribal (Canyon Records, 2001)
Through Windows & Walls (EarthSea Records, 2001)
Fourth World (Canyon Records, 2002)
Sanctuary (Canyon Records, 2003)
In Beauty, We Return (Canyon Records, 2004)
People of Peace (Canyon Records, 2005)
Our Beloved Land (Canyon Records, 2005)
Reconnections (Canyon Records, 2006)
Talisman (Canyon Records, 2008)
Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Roses (Canyon Records, 2008)
Dancing into Silence (Canyon Records, 2010)
Ritual (Mysterium Music, 2014)


Nakai’s Southwestern Jams

R. Carlos Nakai Quartet – What Lies Beyond (Canyon Records CR-7211, 2016)

Acclaimed Navajo-Ute flutist R. Carlos Nakai has numerous projects that range from traditional American Indian flute music to contemporary sounds rooted in Native traditions. The R. Carlos Nakai Quartet is an avenue to fuse Native American melodies with jazz and global beats.

The highlights of the album are the flute performances backed by the creative rhythm patterns and keyboards.

The lineup includes R. Carlos Nakai on Native American flute; AmoChip Dabney on saxophone, keyboards, guitar; Will Clipman on drums and ethnic percussion; and Johnny Walker on bass.

What Lies Beyond is a beautifully-crafted album that showcases the talent of a musician who is taking American Indian/Native American music to exciting new territories.

Buy R. Carlos Nakai Quartet – What Lies Beyond


American Indian Artist R. Carlos Nakai Celebrates Platinum Record with Concert at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix

R. Carlos Nakai
R. Carlos Nakai

R. Carlos Nakai, the leading performer of the Native American flute, will celebrate the first Platinum Record awarded for traditional music with a Platinum Concert at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) Theater in Phoenix, Arizona on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.

At the January 23rd performance, Nakai will be presented with a Platinum Record for his 1989 recording Canyon Trilogy that has sold more than 1,000,000 units. Upon receipt of the award, Nakai will present the Platinum Record to the MIM for inclusion in Nakai’s exhibit in the MIM’s Artist Gallery.

The Platinum Record, which must be certified by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA), is the highest achievement in the music industry.

What makes this Platinum Record utterly unique is that it is earned by an artist performing a traditional instrument in an ethnic musical genre presented on an album released by an independent record company,” explains Robert Doyle, president of Canyon Records and producer of Canyon Trilogy. “Additionally, the music is primarily one instrument performing for one hour (three tracks have an overdubbed second flute). Nakai’s special artistic sense and his technical mastery of the flute creates music that immediately speaks to people. This music is used by many listeners for relaxation, meditation, and even therapy. No other artist in the industry has accomplished what Nakai did in Canyon Trilogy.”

Joining Nakai at the MIM will be long time collaborators, William Eaton (harp guitar) and Will Clipman (global percussion and drums). Both Eaton and Clipman have performed and recorded with Nakai for more than 25 years.


R. Carlos Nakai - Canyon Trilogy
R. Carlos Nakai – Canyon Trilogy


Nakai wanted the Platinum Concert to be more than a career retrospective and invited Tony Duncan, a leading American Indian flute player and world championship hoop dancer, to share the stage. Duncan (San Carlos Apache & Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara), who was born the year Nakai’s first album Changes was released, always cites Nakai as one of his main inspirations and influences. Nakai asked Tony and guitarist Darrin Yazzie (Navajo), to be part of the Platinum Concert to emphasize Nakai’s continued invitation to other artists to join him in presenting the beauties of the Native American flute to the world.

To present his long time interest in classical music, Nakai invited composer/pianist James DeMars to perform the piano version of “Lake That Speaks,” the second movement of the Two Wold Concerto which was composed by DeMars. Nakai has performed this concerto more than 30 times worldwide with symphonies such as the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Nakai also invited pianist Peter Kater with whom Nakai has appeared on eight albums on the Silverwave and Mysterium labels since 1990. Their latest release, Ritual (Mysterium Records), has been nominated for Best New Age Album at this year’s Grammy Awards.

Nakai, who is Navajo-Ute, began playing the traditional Native American flute in the early 1980s and released more than 50 albums in his career (with 40 on the Canyon Records label). Nakai has sold more than 4.3 million albums for Canyon Records and earned two Gold Records for Canyon Trilogy and Earth Spirit. Originally a performer of the trumpet, Nakai has explored many genres with the traditional Native American flute including world, classical, jazz and new age music. He has received eleven Grammy nominations in four different categories and earned a Governor’s Arts Award.

The Musical Instrument Museum Theater is located at 4725 East Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, Arizona. For ticket information visit www.mim.org or call 480-478-6000.


Native American R. Carlos Nakai Releases Flute-Electronica Album

R. Carlos Nakai – Reconnections

Phoenix (Arizona), USA – R. Carlos Nakai, a leading performer of the Native American flute, journeys into the world of electronica on his latest recording, Reconnections, where he forges an exciting ensemble sound with William Baton and arranger Cliff Sarde. Randy Wood, a noted Cree round dance singer, appears as a special guest artist.

Reconnections is a follow-up project to Nakai and Sarde’s first collaboration, Enter Tribal, which also featured several Canyon Records artists in a blend of traditional and contemporary Native American music woven into the rhythms of electronica.

For Reconnections Nakai’s traditional flute is accompanied by the unique stringed instruments of William Baton, and hypnotic electronica keyboard arrangements of Cliff Sarde. The resulting sound is a fluid resonance of the traditional cedar flute, lushly luminous guitars, and the undulating rhythms and textures of electronica.

Nakai was originally trained in classical trumpet and music theory. He was given a traditional cedar flute and challenged to see what he could do with it. Since 1983, he has recorded over thirty-five albums for Canyon Records (plus additional titles on other labels), selling over 3.8 million albums.

Nakai earned the first (and only) two gold records (sales over 500,000) for Native American music for his albums Earth Spirit and Canyon Trilogy. He is a seven-time Grammy nominee (in three different categories), and has received two Indies (the top award for independent record companies) and eight Native American Music Awards.

A designer and builder of unique guitars, William Baton began playing stringed instruments when he was given a ukulele as a boy. He built his first guitar in 1971, and co-founded the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix in 1975, where he continues as executive director.

Baton’s recording career includes six collaborations with Nakai for Canyon Records including Ancestral Voices and In a Distant Place, featuring Nawang Khechog and Will Clipman. Separately, as front man for the William Baton Ensemble, he has released four albums for Canyon Records with Where Rivers Meet earning a Billboard Critic’s Choice award.

Buy Reconnections.


Canyon Records Receives Three Indian Summer Music Awards

R. Carlos Nakai – Our Beloved Land

Phoenix (Arizona), USA – Three Indian Summer Music Awards (ISMA) were awarded to Canyon Records’ artists and albums. The 3rd Annual Indian Summer Music Awards were presented at the Indian Summer Festival where the winners were announced on Saturday, September 9th, 2006.

The ISMA are devoted to the recognition of both established and emerging artists for their outstanding contributions toward indigenous people’s music. In addition the awards were created to increase awareness of the history and diversity of both traditional and contemporary American Indian culture. This year’s winners include:

This year’s finalists include:

Canyon Records, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona has produced and distributed traditional and contemporary Native American music for 55 years.

For more information on Canyon visit: www.canyonrecords.com


R. Carlos Nakai Quartet’s People of Peace Wins Best World Album Nammy Award

R. Carlos Nakai Quartet – People of Peace

Phoenix (Arizona), USA – Canyon Records’ recording artists have been honored with a Nammy Award for People of Peace by the R. Carlos Nakai Quartet in the Best World Album category. This recording was also a 2006 GRAMMY nominee for Best New Age Album. Canyon had been honored this year with a total of fourteen nominations from the Native American Music Awards (or “Nammys”).

The Eighth Annual Native American Music Awards, or The Nammys, made its highly anticipated return to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida featuring over 25 Awards presentations, 12 live music performances, and a special Hall of Fame Induction of the late Link Ray.

Other Canyon Finalists include:

Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Canyon Records has produced and distributed contemporary and traditional Native American music for 55 years.

For additional information about Canyon Records, its artists and for sound samples, visit www.canyonrecords.com.


Nakai, Eaton, Clipman, Nawang

Nakai, Eaton, Clipman, Nawang

Nakai, Eaton, Clipman, Nawang - In A Distant Place
Nakai, Eaton, Clipman, Nawang – In A Distant Place

In A Distant Place (Canyon Records)

After several trial recordings together, R. Carlos Nakai and Nawang Khechog have succeeded in combining their visions of music for meditation and peace. On the same road for many years, the two flutists – Nakai on cedar and Nawang on bamboo – have pursued peace, contentment and joy through their music, Nakai from the West and Nawang from the East.

Nakai has found his way using his Native American background solo and with scores of collaborations. Nawang has until recently walked the path solo composing pieces based on Tibetan philosophy for TV and film scores. Now the two have found success in their expression together. William Eaton’s unique harp guitar provides the network of notes for them to bond to.

Will Clipman’s acoustic percussion grounds the group. The chanting in both Native American and Tibetan adds focus to an already meditative album. This album breaks new ground in its spiritual aim, and it is well worth noting that with it, the distance between the ancient Native Americans and the Tibetans has grown smaller.

Buy In A Distant Place