Grammys to celebrate 50th anniversary show with diverse nods

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By Sandra Hale Schulman
News From Indian Country 1-08

R&B singer/songwriter Akon, three-time GRAMMY winner Fergie, 18-time GRAMMY winner Vince Gill, two-time GRAMMY-winning group Linkin Park (Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda), actor/comedian George Lopez, and platinum country singer Taylor Swift announced the nominees for the Grammys during December.

The 50th GRAMMY Awards take center stage at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, 2008, on CBS.

Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards – the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music – The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs. In its 50th year, The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture.

For several years there has been a Native American Music Album category that has been won by top artists such as Bill Miller, Mary Youngblood, and producer Tom Bee of SOAR Records.

This years nominees include:

Walter Ahhaitty and Friends
– Oklahoma Style [SOAR]
An outstanding collection of Oklahoma gourd songs recorded live at the 35th Annual Southern California Indian Center Powwow as performed by Walter Ahhaitty & Friends.

“Watch This Dancer!,” Black Lodge
[Canyon Records]

“The Ballad Of Old Times,” Davis
Mitchell [SOAR]
Traditional Navajo Songs. Performed beautifully on hand drum with the unique vocal styling of Davis Mitchell.

“Reconnections,” R. Carlos Nakai,
Cliff Sarde & William Eaton
[Canyon Records]

This year’s announcement marks R. Carlos Nakai’s eighth Grammy® nomination (in three different categories). Multi-Grammy® nominee R. Carlos Nakai, the world’s leading performer of the Native American flute, journeys into the world of electronica on “Reconnections,” where he works with long-time collaborator William Eaton and arranger Cliff Sarde. Randy Wood, a noted Cree round dance singer, appears as a special guest artist. In “Reconnnections,” Nakai’s traditional flute is accompanied by the unique stringed instruments of multi-Grammy® nominee William Eaton, and the hypnotic electronica keyboard arrangements of Cliff Sarde. The resulting sound is the fluid resonance of the cedar flute, the rich harmonies of the harp-guitar, and the undulating rhythms and textures of electronica.

Since 1983, Nakai has released thirty-six albums for Canyon Records (plus additional titles on other labels), selling over four million albums. He earned the first (and only) two gold records (sales over 500,000) for Native American music for his albums “Earth Spirit” and “Canyon Trilogy.” Additionally, Nakai has received two Indies (the Grammy® for independent record companies) and eight Native American Music Awards. Nakai’s musicality is so diverse that one reviewer described him as the “Miles Davis of the Native flute,” while another wrote, “Nakai is to Native American flute music what James Galway has been to Irish music and the classical flute.”

“Watch this Dancer!” by Black Lodge of White Swan, Washington’s, new CD is a follow-up to their 2005 Grammy® nominated album, “MORE Kids’ Pow-Wow Songs” (their first children’s album, “Kids’ Pow-Wow Songs,” is the all-time best selling pow-wow album). One of the top two pow-wow groups in North America, Black Lodge is headed by Kenny Scabby Robe (Blackfeet), and is comprised primarily of Scabby Robe and his sons. This nomination is Black Lodge’s sixth total and fourth with Canyon including “Tribute to the Elders” (2001) and “Weasel Tail’s Dream” (2002). Black Lodge has released twenty albums with Canyon Records. This year’s nominations brings Canyon’s total to twenty-two, the most for companies specializing in Native American music.

Peter Kater Faces of the Sun Grammy Nominee for Best New Age Music album – This marks the fourth Grammy nomination for the prolific composer and producer Peter Kater. On “Faces of the Sun” he teams with previous Grammy winners Mary Youngblood and Bill Miller, legendary instrumentalists Tony Levin and Paul McCandless (also a Grammy nominee this year), and Native American stars Joseph Fire Crow, Kevin Locke, Arvel Bird, Jeff Ball, and Douglas Blue Feather. “Faces of the Sun” achieved top ten radio airplay on



Johnny Whitehorse “Totemic Flute Chants” Grammy Nominee for Best Native American Music album – Johnny Whitehorse is the alter-ego of Native American superstar Robert Mirabal. Mirabal was first honored by the Grammys for his participation on the 2006 Grammy winning record “Sacred Ground” on which he was lead performer on two tracks. “Totemic Flute Chants” honors the mystery and power of animal spirits including Cougar, Coyote, Thunderbird, Serpent, Buffalo, Whale, Elk, Eagle, Bear, and Wolf. Co-produced by Larry Mitchell.

“The Live Wire – Woody Guthrie In Performance 1949.” Nominated in the Best Historical Album category is a most unusual record of a long lost recording on a rare, defunct technique called a wire recording.

This amazing find came in the mail from a former Good Humor truck ice cream salesman, who had recorded the concert at the YM-YWHA’s Fuld Hall in Newark, New Jersey, on a now obsolete wire recording technique, put it in a box, and forgot about it for over 50 years.

“Upon transferring the wire recordings and listening to them for the first time, we quickly realized that we had miraculously acquired something precious,” says Nora Guthrie, Woody’s daughter and head of the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives. “But getting the music off that hair-thin wire almost put me in therapy as we found one guy – one – in all of the East Coast that had the equipment to transfer it. It took 3 days of work in his tiny Brooklyn basement and I had to literally tie the broken strands together with thread when they broke, which happened about a dozen times.”

But the resulting album, the only decent live recordings of Woody in front of an audience (only available through the Guthrie website was one of Ms. Guthrie’s most satisfying projects as she realized her mother Marjorie had taught dance classes to young girls in the 1940s at that same NJ hall. Woody played guitar for many of the recitals, and pictures she had in her home album showed these classes and a sweeter, gentler side of her normally feisty political dad.

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