This CD is a great sampling of Native American music from across North America, and includes both contemporary and traditional songs. With a wide range of artists, Nations and generes included, this is a great sampling of Native American music styles, whether you already enjoy Native music or have never heard it before.
The Rough Guide: Native American Music
Artists: Rita Coolidge, Sharon Burch, the Blackstone Singers, Robert Tree Cody, Bill Miller, The Garcia Brothers and Chester Mahooty.
From Native flute performances by Carlos Nakai (Navajo and Ute) and Bill Miller (Mohican), and a traditional northern powwow song by the Blackstone Singers (Cree), there is plenty of traditional material on this CD. Other things are quite unexpected, such as the Black Lodge Singers (Blackfeet) who do a northern style powwow version of Mickey Mouse that is popular with the tiny tots.
A traditional dance song of the San Juan Pueblo is performed by the Garcia Brothers, a Zuni prayer chant is performed by Chester Mahooty and even a historic recording of Ed Lee Natay (Navajo).
Natay was the first Native performer recorded on the Canyon Records label, the first major native American label to be distributed to non-Indians. Natay was familar with the music of neighboring Nations, and on this CD the song he sings is Keres Pueblos, not Navajo.
The most interesting traditional piece is a song traditionally played before the Ghost Dance, performed by Judy Trejo (Paiute). Her efforts to preserve the music of the Paiute and Shoshone are very worthwhile, and if you appreciated that track check out her CD as well.
Walela (Cherokee), Joanne Shenandoah (Oneida) and Sharon Burch (Navajo) contrast her with three contemporary vocal pieces that I found particularly beautiful and moving.
Another contemporary piece has Robert Tree Cody (Maricopa and Dakota) singing in the Dakota language to accompany a keyboard, drum and Native flute. A couple other lesser known generes of Native music are given, such as a Church hymn in Kiowa by Cornell Pewewardy (Comanche and Kiowa) and an example of “chicken scratch,” a popular polka style music of the Tohono O’odham of Arizona.
Verdell Primeaux (Lakota and Ponca) and Johnny Mike (Navajo), two Roadmen of the Native American Church, perform a wonderfully haunting and emotional Peyote healing ceremony.
Even more unusual is a hiphop number infused with Native activism from WithOut Rezervation (Paiute, Navajo, Cree and Tohono O’odham) and a melodic, jazz-funk piece by Burning Sky (Ute and Navajo).
If you’ve never heard Native music before, this is a really good introduction. And if you already enjoy American Indian music, this CD is too good to pass up.