CK from Stunning Keisha is this month’s guest conductor, and she’s decided that, in honor of Native American Heritage Month, “Let’s share songs inspired by, performed by or about Native Americans!”
Problem was, I wasn’t sure I knew that many Native American performers, so I sought help from The National Association of Native American Music, the people who conduct The Native American Music Awards. In addition to running the awards show, they’re also the people who maintain the National Native Americn Music Hall of Fame. There are a lot of musicians who have at least a small amount of Native American heritage, one of whom was Jimi Hendrix, who claims some Cherokee heritage. Here are ten musicians or groups who can trace their roots back to the Native Americans.
- Redbone, “Come And Get Your Love” Pat (bass and vocals) and the late Lolly (guitar and vocals) Vasquez-Vegas are of Yaqui, Shoshone, and Mexican heritage, while drummer Peter DePoe is Southern Cheyenne, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Rogue River/Siletz, German and French background and the late guitarist Tony Bellamy (born Robert Anthony Avila) was Yaqui and Mexican. They had several hits, including “Witch Queen of New Orleans,” which reached #21, and this song, which went to #5 and was certified gold in 1973. It’s had a resurgence in popularity since being included in the 2014 movie Guardians of the Galaxy.
- Buffy Sainte-Marie, “Darling Don’t Cry” Buffy was born in the Piapot Reserve of the Qu’Appelle Valley of Saskatchewan, but was abandoned as a baby and adopted by the Sainte-Maries of Wakefield, Massachusetts, who were of Mi’kmaq descent. Wikipedia calls her “musician, singer-songwriter, composer, record producer, visual artist, educator, social activist, actress, [and] humanitarian.” With Jack Nitzche and Wil Jennings she wrote the song “Up Where We Belong,” which won an Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA award.
- Jesse Ed Davis, “Bacon Fat” I first heard Jesse Ed Davis when he was backing Taj Mahal in the late ’60’s. He is of Comanche and Kiowa descent. He was well known as a session guitarist who backed Eric Clapton, John Lennon, and George Harrison on tour. I thought this was the song of the same name that he played with Taj, but evidently it isn’t.
- Josh Halverson, “Thunderbird Sky” Josh is Shakopee Sioux on his mother’s side. He performed on The Voice but was eliminated. He won NAMA awards for Artist of the Year and Best Folk Recording in 2017.
- Mickie James, “I Don’t Give A” A fixture on the WWE circuit, Mickie started her music career in 2010. Most of her singles have been independently released. This is her latest single.
- Kitty Wells, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” Kitty has some Cherokee heritage. This song broke down the barrier for women in country music and she was the first woman to top the country charts with this song.
- Crystal Gayle, “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” Crystal can also claim Cherokee heritage. She’s the sister of Loretta Lynn. This song topped the country chart and crossed over to the Hot 100 at #5, and became a major international hit. And, despite the name of the song, Crystal has blue eyes.
- Link Wray & His Raymen, “Rumble” Link Wray is of Shawnee heritage and was inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame in 2007. This song reached #16 in 1958.
- The Ventures, “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” Guitarist Nokie Edwards claims some Cherokee heritage. This only reached #35 in 1964, but several of you mentioned this is a favorite.
- Hank Williams, “I Saw The Light” Hank has some Muscogee Creek and Tsalagi (Cherokee) heritage. I remember this song from an episode of Columbo that featured Johnny Cash.
And that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for November 11, 2019.