Anchorage-based quartet Pamyua took top honors Saturday night
at the Native American Music Awards in Albuquerque, N.M., when
a live album they recorded at the 4th Avenue Theatre in 2002,
called "Caught in the Act," was named record of the
win took the musicians by surprise. In fact, they were so sure they'd
been passed over for the honor that brothers Phillip and Stephen
Blanchett weren't even in their auditorium seats. They were in the
lobby, negotiating a future gig, when they got word.
opened the door and saw Karina (Moeller) and Ossie (Kairaiuak) on
stage, and everyone was laughing," Phillip Blanchett said of
his band mates. "I did our seal call -- Woohoo! Woohoo! --
and ran up, flapping my arms like a bird."
award is the first Nammy for Pamyua (pronounced BUM-yo-ah) and the
first for an Alaska artist in the six years of the award. More than
140 recordings were submitted for 2003 Nammy consideration. Finalists
were announced in October.
in the Act" was nominated for three 2003 Nammys -- best duo/group,
best pop/rock recording, and record of the year -- but the group
didn't think they had a chance at winning any of them when they
arrived at Saturday's event. Winners don't sit in general admission.
The theater housing the Nammys seats 3,000, and Pamyua was assigned
to watch the show from the next to last row.
man, I couldn't believe it. I was actually upset," Stephen
Blanchett said from his Anchorage home Monday. "We already
had a doubtful feeling, but we knew we definitely wouldn't win now.
They wouldn't put anyone who won in the back."
before the group could polish the "It's an honor just to be
nominated" routine, Pamyua was called to the stage and the
joke was on them.
saw (NAMA director) Donald Kelly backstage, and he said 'I gotcha!'
" Stephen Blanchett said, laughing. "He said, 'You didn't
think you'd win, did you?' I didn't."
in the Act" was released in April. Pamyua's CD debut was "Mengluni"
in 1998. The title is Yup'ik for "the beginning." Pamyua's
second album, "Verses," was released in late 2000 and
earned the group a 2001 Nammy nomination for best world music recording.
formed eight years ago as a Blanchett duo but was a foursome within
a year. The group has since grown popular in Alaska and on the world
music festival circuits with its blend of traditional Native song,
drum and dance performance, Yup'ik storytelling and contemporary
world music. The group also has heavy influences in R&B, funk,
jazz, doo-wop and gospel.
musical diversity and Pamyua's vibrant performance energy are showcased
on the aptly titled "Caught in the Act."
really wanted to show people the evolution of the music we were
making," Stephen Blanchett said. "And it really captured
what we do onstage. I think people still remember that night."
the group will always remember the night it had the worst seats
in the house.
amazing. We went out of there feeling like we won the award,"
Phillip Blanchett said. "We just accomplished something that
is at the very top. We are so honored to have our names in the record
Blanchetts said Pamyua will perform locally in December but the
event is still in the planning phase. The group is also conceptualizing
its fourth album, but there are no firm recording or release dates.
read a complete list of the Nammy Winners, click