Performers Announced for the Eleventh Annual Native American Music Awards


Special Performance By Host Gil Birmingham NAMA Hall of Fame Tribute Performance For Late Ritchie Valens

September 16, 2009 – Niagara Falls, NY. Nominee performances for the 11th Annual Native American Music Awards (NAMA) to be held on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at the Seneca Entertainment Center in the Seneca Casino & Hotel in Niagara Falls, New York will feature: Bryan Akipa Eagle & Hawk, Gabriel Ayala, Jace Martin, Jimmy Wolf, Jana Mashonee with Derek Miller, Joanne Shenandoah with Michael Bucher, Rezhogs, Shane Yellowbird, Tonemah and more.

Other special performances include; an opening acoustic blues rendition of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Pride & Joy by host Gil Birmingham, a special rock performance by Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Stevie Salas with original Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzesse, and a closing Hall of Fame tribute performance for the late Ritchie Valens by his brother Mario Ramirez and The Backyard Blues Band. 

Tickets for the 11th Annual Native American Music Awards are on-sale now through all Ticketmaster outlets. Public voting to determine the winner of each category is open to the general public. Music from all nominees is currently featured on the audio players on Anyone can vote by visiting the Awards website.

Host, Gil Birmingham – is an Actor and Blues musician. He has received recent public acclaim for his portrayal as Billy Black in Twilight. Birmingham’s other TV and screen credits include; Dreamkeeper, Skins, Nip/Tuck, 10 Items or Less, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and his powerful portrayal of Dogstar in Steven Spielberg's six-part TV miniseries, Into the West. Birmingham will return as Billy Black in the Twilight sequel, New Moon, this November.

bryan-akipa.jpgBryan Akipa, is a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, an Army veteran, elementary teacher, visual and performing artist, and a Grammy nominee and award-winning traditional Native American flute player. Bryan is internationally known for his craftsmanship of traditional flutes. When one hears the depth and age in sound of his instrument, the importance of this tradition becomes quite apparent. He is also a champion traditional dancer that tours with the Lakota Sioux Dance Theatre. His performances and artwork informs others about his history and heritage.

cree-confederation.jpgDallas Waskahat and Fawn Wood - Originating from the Frog Lake Cree Nation of Alberta, Canada; Dallas is an accomplished composer and lead singer for the, “Cree Confederation,” drum group. He was nominated for a Grammy for Best Traditional Music, in 2001 and has performed with the “Native American Dance Theatre.” His journey has entailed him to lead an active connectedness to his cultural heritage through ceremony and song. Hailing from Saddle Lake, Fawn’s passion for singing, she believes, was passed down from her Mom, Dad whom encouraged and supported her to sing to her heart’s content. Her determination has earned her champion titles and is the first female to win, “Champion hand drum singer.”

eh09-125.jpgEagle & Hawk – Nominated for Group of the Year, and Best Rock Recording, this group comes from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Chemistry, talent, a bit of ego, and a lot of heart and desire are the key ingredients to Eagle & Hawk. Their latest release Sirensong has taken them to new heights. As for their live performance, member Jay Bodner says, "We just go out every night and give it 110%."

ayalaphotos086-125.jpgGabriel Ayala – Gabriel Ayala (Yaqui) has received five (5) nominations surrounding his three recordings; Portraits, Allegro, and Tango!. Ayala is at the forefront of a new generation of Native Americans making a career performing classical music. He started playing guitar as a child, studied with Philip Hii and then earned a Master's Degree in Music Performance from the University of Arizona in 1997. Ayala has taught at all educational levels from elementary through college, has appeared at the Kennedy Center for the Arts, National Museum for the American Indian, and has been recognized by the State of Arizona and Governor Janet Napolitano for his musical achievements.

jace-martin-125.jpgJace Martin – From Six Nations, Jace Martin's creative and experimental style of vocalizing music and developing melody has been a strong point in his career. With a uniquely powerful voice, he's been leading and writing music for over 14 years and achieved early what takes most veterans years longer. There is an appreciation for Jace's inspirational attitude among his friends and colleagues that spills into his music. A very refreshing voice that will energize and inspire the very best of any crowd.

jimmy-wolf.jpgJimmy Wolf – Mohawk singer-songwriter-guitarist Jimmy Wolf brings a new and exciting energy to the world of blues and rock. He takes the delta-chicago blues, 50's rock and R&B and mixes it with chainsaw guitar and overdriven voice to create a soulful music experience. He has shared the stage with blues legends Buddy Guy, Jr., Wells, Albert, King Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, Millie Jackson and Little Johnny Taylor. While living in Memphis Jimmy was a regular on Beale St. playing the clubs. Jimmy has previously been nominated for Best Blues Recording and won at the Tenth Annual Awards show last year.

derek-jana.jpgJana Mashonee & Derek Miller – With four (4) nominations, Jana Mashonee’s (Lumbee) recording A Change Is Gonna Come features a collaboration with Derek Miller (Mohawk) and garnered three nods for Best Pop recording, Best Video and Song/Single. In addition to providing all the vocals and piano, Jana wrote and co-produced the album. Jana’s previously won seven Native American Music Awards. Singer/songwriter Derek Miller has an eclectic taste and a knack for blues-inflected roots rock. He became interested in music in his early teens, and by 2002 released his debut album, Music Is the Medicine, and garnered a Canadian Juno Award.

mikejoinaugural-125.jpgJoanne Shenandoah & Michael Bucher – With a total of six (6) nominations for their recording, Bitter Tears: Sacred Ground, Joanne Shenandoah (Oneida) and Michael Bucher (Cherokee) came together with the inspiration for their joint recording after meeting at the 2007 Native American Music Awards. Shenandaoh, who is a Grammy and 11 time Native American Music Award winning artist is up for Best Female Artist and Song/Single of the year for the track, Riding Free. Bucher earned a nomination for Best Video for his single, Don’t Forget About Me and for Best Male Artist. Together they share nominations for the Best Compilation Recording and Record of the Year.

rezhogs-125.jpgRezhogs – With two (2) nominations, the Rezhogs hail from the Yakama Rez and have shaped and formed a sound filled with humor and an outlook unique, clever and original.The Rezhogs have performed and promoted their music for 8 years and have expaneded their sound from the Northwest to the world wide web. The group consists of two main members: Ryan Craig who also hosts his own radio show, and N8 Winishut, currently serving in the US Army in Bagdad, Iraq. The dynamic duo effortlessly weave humor, truth and emotion into their uptempo and creative rap music that’s from the perspective of America's underdog's.

yellowbird8x10-125.jpgShane Yellowbird has gone from quietly pursuing a fine arts college degree to a budding country music star, with a hot selling record, major awards and nominations, and five Top 10 radio hits and videos to his credit. Growing up in Hobbema, AB, Yellowbird who is Cree hopes to inspire others to pursue their dreams. Wherever you come from, whatever obstacles you face, your dreams can come true – something Yellowbird knows firsthand. Yellowbird is proud of his country roots and still breaks horses and competes in calf-roping whenever he can. But given the exceptional early fan response to his songs, Yellowbird’s future seems destined to deliver more outstanding country music.

stevie-salas-125.jpgStevie Salas with Dave Abbruzzese & TM Stevens – As this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Stevie Salas is an American born rock guitarist of Apache descent. He has worked with many of record industry greats including; Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, George Clinton and Justin Timberlake. He was awarded a Native American Music Award for Best Rock Recording in 2008, is the host of the one hour live music program Arbor Live in Canada and has been the Music Director for American Idol’s famed winner, David Cook. Stevie will be performing with drummer Dave Abbruzzese (Pearl Jam) and bassist TM Stevens (Miles Davis, Joe Cocker, James Brown, The Pretenders, Steve Vai).

dtonemah-125.jpgTonemah – Nominated for Best Folk Recording, Darryl Tonemah’s (Kiowa, Comanche, Tuscarora) career has spanned nearly two decades. After five CD's to his credit, radio and TV appearances, and a Native American Music Award, he is an artist with staying power that possesses international appeal. He sings his songs earnestly and honestly, and clearly connects with his audience. His rootsy appeal and point of view have become his trademark. Growing up on and off reservations throughout the U.S. as well as his passionate work in health have given Dr. Tonemah a unique perspective. "Darryl’s songs touch people on a very personal level. You see it in their faces at every show.." Ed Koban, guitarist.

file000-125.jpgThe Backyard Blues Band - A special tribute performance will be held in honor of the late Ritchie Valens’ (Yaqui) by his little brother, Mario Ramirez, and The Backyard Blues Band. Since 1993, Backyard Blues Band has been entertaining crowds with their straight ahead "Backyard Style" approach to blues. Mario's passion for his music, and his desire to honor the memory of his late brother Ritchie Valens, are the driving force behind his band. The induction presentation will be made by Tommy Allsup, famed guitarist in Buddy Holly’s band who lost the coin toss with Valens to ride on the ill-fated plane. It has been 50 years since his tragic passing in a plane crash shortly after his last performance at the Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay, Wisconsin on his way to a show in Fargo, ND. The plane crash also claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson and the pilot on February 3, 1959.

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