NAMMYS Highlight Native Musical Talent

©by Doug George-Kanentiio
News From Indian Country

The fifteenth Native American Music Awards (the NAMMYS) once again honoured the best in aboriginal music while showcasing the wide diversity and depth of talent among the nation's indigenous performing artists.

And once again this historic event was bypassed by the mainstream media to the loss of the North American public who would have been entertained and enlightened as to the many dimensions of Native music whose artists are the equal to any other professional  musician who picks up a microphone strums a guitar or works in a studio.

Jim Boyd, Lifetime Achievement recipient. Photo by Kimberie Acosta, Native American Music Awards.
From the extraordinary rock ballads of Jim Boyd to the powerful tenor Lawrence Harris the comedy of puppeteer Buddy Big Mountain and the emotional vocals of Jamie Coon; the artists featured on NAMMY creator Ellen Bello's list were without exception in command of the stage as the audience at the Seneca Allegany Casino was shown just how good Native artists can be.

Janice Marie Johnson, Host of the 15th Annual Nammys. Photo by Kimberile Acosta, Native American Music Awards.
MC Janice M. Johnson from the pop group A Taste of Honey began the three hour show with a rousing introduction and brought it to an end showing her exceptional base guitar skills. She was followed by the presentations of awards ranging from Lifetime Achievement to Jim Boyd of the Colville Nation to the four Iroquois artists who demonstrated that once again the Native people of the northeast have show they are among the best.

Jimmy Wolf-Mohawk-was given the "Best Male Artist" award with Akwesasne's Theresa Bear Fox taking home the coveted "Songwriter of the Year" trophy.

And the Oneida Nation was honoured when Joanne Shenandoah scored her unparalleled 14th NAMMY with her "Best World" album "Nature Dance". Ms. Shenandoah was joined by another Oneida winner when her daughter Leah was presented with her first NAMMY as "Best Debut Artist" for "Spectra" from which she performed the main ballad on stage.

The  group Indigenous showed why it won a NAMMY for best blues album by blasting a set which had the audience dancing in the aisles.

For the artists the awards represent a unique opportunity to perform on a national stage. It has proven a challenge for any Native artist to command a national following. One logical venue would be the 200 plus Native casinos across the US yet a casual review of the largest gambling-entertainment centers fail to show any Native act in the past month. From Connecticut to Washington State California to Florida  and Minnesota to central New York State their entertainment calendars are missing Native talent.

Buddy Big Mountain and Windell at the 15th Annual Nammys. Photo by Kimberie Acosta, Native American Music Awards.
When asked why Natives are excluded from their stages the entertainment directors always say the Natives don’t have drawing power which simply means those booking agents fail to see Native talent and refuse to promote aboriginal performers which in turn means the acts are bypassed for others and are therefore obscured.

One simple solution proposed by many fans of Native music is to have a national touring group featuring key NAMMY winners supplemented by regional acts. Target music centers in large cities such as Nashville Los Angeles New York to attract major record labels and the media then watch as artists just how great they can be.

A rebroadcast of the show will air Thanksgiving Day on PBS, brought to you by FNX. To get it carried in your area contact your local PBS station and request that they air the 15th Annual Native American Music Awards.
 Jan Looking Wolf and Tim Yett at the 15th Annual Nammys. Photo by Kimberlie Acosta, Native American Music Awards

The NAMMY winners this year are:



Artist of the Year
Mato Nanji
Vanishing Americans
Best Blues Recording
Vanishing Americans
 Indigenous wins Best Blues Recording. Photo by Kimberlie Acosta, Native American Music Awards
Best Compilation Recording
Don’t Let Me Forget
Kelly Montijo Fink
Best Country Recording
Woman Of Red
Tracy Bone
Debut Artist of the Year
Leah Shenandoah
Debut Group of the Year
Never Surrender

Clayson & Jeneda Benally, Sihasin. Photo by Kimberlie Acosta, Native American Music Awards. 
Best Female Artist
Rita Coolidge
A Rita Coolidge Christmas
Best Folk Recording
Keeper of the Dreams
Red Feather Woman
Flutist of the Year
Rona Yellowrobe
The Gathering
Best Inspirational Recording
Grace & Grit: Chapter I
Dark Water Rising

Charly Lowry, Darkwater Rising. Photo by Kimberlie Acosta, Native American Music Awards 
Group of the Year
Plenty Wolf Singers
Medicine Wolf
Best Historical/Linguistic Recording
Heart of the Buffalo
Richard Stepp & Rick McKee
Best Instrumental Recording
The Long Journey Home
Ryan Little Eagle Molina
Best Male Artist
Jimmy Wolf
A Tribute To Little Johnny Taylor
Best Native American Church Recording
Apache Peyote Songs
Joe Tohonnie Jr
Best New Age Recording
Rushingwind & Mucklow
Best Pop Recording
Day After Day
Jamie Coon

Jamie Coon, Best Pop Recording. Photo by Kimberlie Acosta, Native American Music Awards.
Best Pow Wow Recording
Tha Tribe

Wayne Silas Jr. singing with his children. Photo by Kimberlie Acosta, Native American Music Awards. 
Best Producer
Kevin Chief
Honoring The Mazinikijik Singers
Best Rap Hip Hop Recording
One Tribe One Nation
The Council

Record of the Year
Romanze Songs of Tosti
Lawrence Harris

Lawrence Harris wins Record of the Year. Photo by Kimberlie Acosta, Native American Music Awards.
Best Rock Recording
Two Sons
The Ollivanders

Song of the Year
Witchi Tai-To – Water Spirits
Shadowyze, Caren Knight Pepper and Jim Pepper

Songwriter of the Year
Theresa "Bear" Fox
Best Spoken Word Recording
Grandfather Speaks
Ken Quiet Hawk
Best Traditional Recording
Spirit of Thunderheart

Best Music Video
Sisters ft Northern Voice
A Tribe Called Red

Best Waila Recording
In Loving Memory of Our Beloved Father & Uncle
Family Pride

Best World Music Recording
Nature Dance
Joanne Shenandoah

Joane Shenandoah, Best World Music Recording. Photo by Kimberlie Acosta, Native American Music Awards.
Native Heart
Lex Nichols
The Long Road
Lifetime Achievement
Jim Boyd

Rising Star
Gareth Laffely