Native Music Rocks the world

By Sandra Hale Schulman
Hollywood, California (NFIC) 10-09

Crystal Shawanda

“When I say Native Music Rocks,  I don’t just mean rock and roll,” says Micki Free, sitting in a back booth at the Hollywood Hard Rock Café before his latest road show.

“I mean all Native music, including hip hop, reggae, soul, country, folk – all of it, as long as it’s made by Native musicians and comes from the heart.”

Launched in October 2008 at Hard Rock in Phoenix during the National Congress of American Indians, the tour has now gone all over the country, playing at the American Indian Inaugural Ball in Washington DC, Indian Market in Santa Fe, Phoenix, San Diego and in London’s Hyde Park for the third year in a row.

“This has taken on a life of its own,” said Tina Osceola of the Tribal Historic Resources Department. “ The objective is to promote Native artists, attract that spark artist, and to provide training ground for international careers.”

The tour coincides with the debut of the NATIVE MUSIC ROCKS! line of apparel at Hard Rock Cafes around the world. The fashion line will be exclusively available at Hard Rock Cafes and includes a limited edition run of items designed by Hard Rock International with Free, who also oversaw the design of the entire collection.

The tour will wrap up with a special November show celebrating “Native American Heritage” Month. The annual holiday – established in 1990 – celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of the peoples who were the original inhabitants, explorers and settlers of the United States.

Artists on the tour include:

Crystal Shawanda: Crystal is a citizen of both the U.S. and Canada. She was born in Ontario and grew up on the Wikwemikong reservation on Canada’s Manitoulin Island. Shawanda's debut album, “Dawn of a New Day,” was released in the summer of 2008. The album debuted at #2 on the Canadian Country Albums chart and #16 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and Crystal became the highest charted album by a Native American country artist in the SoundScan era.

Casper Lomayesva: This Hopi/Diné singer has created a sound that combines his native roots with the positive vibes of reggae music. Casper’s music is filled with hope and power. The words are a reflection of his own philosophy on life, influenced not only by the sounds of crucial reggae music but of traditional Hopi culture.

Martha Redbone: (Choctaw, Shawnee and Cherokee) This singer is blessed with a voice that can make you weak in the knees, lift you up and exalt you, mesmerize you, soothe you, thrill you. Redbone purrs, whispers and hollers her messages of struggle and redemption.

Levi & The Plateros: This three-piece family group from the Eastern Agency of the Navajo Nation is comprised of 16-year-old Levi on guitar, his father Murphy Platero on bass guitar and Douglas Platero on drums. Since the late 50s, members of the Platero family have been known for their musicianship within the Tohajiilee Indian Reservation near Albuquerque, NM. The group has worked hard at breaking the mold of Native American blues music, cooking up a unique hybrid of blues and rock.

Hank Nelson Jr.: After some set backs in his teens and twenties, Hank went back to his roots and used music as a release. With the support of a wife and family, in December 2007, he entered into the Seminole Star Search Contest where he was chosen as a spotlight award winner. He has now recorded three tracks on an album highlighting Native American music.

Paula Bowers-Sanchez: After earning a BA in Psychology from NYU and a Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University, Paula Bowers-Sanchez turned her attention to the entertainment industry upon being chosen as a Grand Prize winner of Seminole Star Search. Paula is currently pursuing her acting career in Hollywood, California.
Shea: Cherokee Recording Artist Shea is definitely no stranger to the stage!! She began her musical journey at the tender age of twelve when asked to join gospel group Heaven’s Harmony touring the southern United States opening for gospel legends such as Charles Johnson and The Revivers, The Mckameys, Conrad Cook and The Calvary Echoes along with countless others. Thus began her life long love affair with touring and the stage.

American Horse:
Micki Free’s newest supergroup is comprised of himself on lead vocal, guitars; the unbelievable Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz) on drums, and David Santos  (CSNY) on bass.