Through Pauly Denetclaw
mohawk artist Julian Taylor felt excited but very anxious upon hearing about his Native American Music Award nominations for his 2020 album “The Ridge.” Taylor is biracial and said he doesn’t look like a First Nations person. He was worried, but then he thought of what his grandfather would say: “He would tell my warrior heart to rise up with pride.
In August 2020, amid the pandemic that was disproportionately affecting Indigenous communities, the Native American Music Awards (aka Nammys) announced that they would be postponing the awards indefinitely. They had hoped to be back by 2021, but that didn’t happen. The nominees include music released from 2019 to 2021x. This year, Nammy’s has 37 categories ranging from Best Pop Video to Artist of the Year.
“It’s very special for me to be included. I feel like it’s a beautiful, wonderful honor because I’m a mixed bag. I grew up a bastard, as some have called me , and I really identify with both of my cultures. I really identify with my Indigenous roots,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s mother and maternal grandfather are Mohawk from Kahnawake, Canada and her father and paternal grandfather are West Indian from a small Eastern Caribbean island called Nevis.
“It’s puzzling and also very inspiring and special, because I look at my ancestors from both sides, the fact that we’re still here, the fact that I was even born is extremely magical, sacred and very spiritual,” he said. -he declares. . “Just to be [nominated]means so much to me… I am very, very grateful for this opportunity.
Taylor is nominated in five categories, Best Debut Artist, Best Country Recording, Best Male Vocalist, Best Folk Recording and Best Country Video. The awards ceremony launched 15 new music video categories.
Another candidate is Darren Thompson, which also publishes on Native News Online. He’s nominated for Best Flute Recording and takes on two people whose work he admires.
“One of them once won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native American Music Awards and it was Raymond Carlos, aka R. Carlos Nakai, who pretty much started the whole category of Native American flute music,” Thompson said. . “He was chosen as a finalist and the other is Jonah Littlesunday. He and I have played together a number of times in the South West at the Heard Museum.
Thompson is self-taught and started at age 19 in his college dorm. He bought his first flute at a now defunct music festival and began to learn by doing. Later, he was offered $500 to perform in college, and as an undergrad, that was a lot of money. So he took the gig and has been playing ever since.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would even record a CD and I have three [now], and two of them were nominated,” Thompson said. “And I didn’t submit my first one because I didn’t even think to.”
This is Thompson’s second Nammy nomination as a flautist. In 2016 he was nominated for Flutist of the Year. He is Ojibwe and Tohono O’odham from Lac du Flambeau in northern Wisconsin.
“I just consider myself extremely lucky and extremely blessed to have been able to cross paths with this instrument and learn as much from it as I have,” said Thompson. “Part of my job as a musician is to share what I’ve learned with others so that it puts even deeper context into who we are as a people and aspects of our culture and history. .”
His next goal is to perform with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, a lifelong goal that will finally come to fruition in March. He will perform with them at the Wisconsin State Capitol.
In the notable category, Artist of the Year, the nominees are Aaron White (Navajo/Ute), Connor Chee (Navajo), Fawn Wood (Cree and Salish), Kakike Irv Lyons, Jr (Oneida), Jace Martin (Iroquois Mohawk ), Kelly Derrickson (First Nations), R. Carlos Nakai (Dine/Ute) and Sten Joddi (Mvskoke Creek Nation of Oklahoma).
In Best Group/Duo of the Year, the nominees are Blackbird (Cherokee/Dakota/Yaqui), Black Lodge Singers (Blackfeet), Crazy Flute (Cherokee), Eagle & Hawk Liberty (Ojibway), The GroovaLottos (Mashpee Wampanoag), The Ripcords (Onondaga Nation), Twin Flames (Inuit, Mohawk/Métis) and Young Spirit.
public vote began on January 21 and will end on March 31, 2022. This will determine the finalists and winners in each category. For the full list of nominees, visit the Native American Music Awards website. The awards show will be virtual due to the ongoing pandemic and is tentatively scheduled for the spring.
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