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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Overcoming Obstacles to Find Their Music Groove: Stories about Native Musicians
by Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Entertainment Native News Network
Music is universal and transcends language barriers. From flute music, country music to drumming, American Indian music comes in a variety of styles.

This point is illustrated well in "Native Musicians in the Groove," a book published by Native Voices as part of the Native Trailblazers Series by Vincent Schilling.

Schilling is a tribal member of the Saint Regis Mohawk tribe. "Native Musicians in the Groove" is written for young people from ages 9 - 16. Schilling has contributed to several American Indian news publications in the United States, including "Indian Country," "Native Times," "Tribal College Journal," and "Winds of Change."

"Native Musicians in the Groove" features ten different American Indian musicians who perform various music genres. It does not matter what type of music the featured artists make or produce, their stories are similar in that they are American Indians, who had to work hard to become the artists they became.

One particular featured musician, Michael Bucher, Cherokee, who grew up in a small apartment on the south side of Chicago, uses his music to make a statement about the protection of sacred sites.

"My life has been a bowl of cherries. Like many Native people, I've struggled with the demons, be it alcohol, depression, or whatever. Hopefully you will find that battle that you have to fight, and if you do find it, fight it well, and stay true to your intentions," Bucher offers as advice to young people.

Bucher performed at inauguration festivities in January 2009 for President Barack Obama.

Another featured American Indian musician is Shane Yellowbird, Cree, who overcame a stuttering problem to become an award-winning country singer.

"This business is so up and down. I have probably thought about quitting more times than I have thought about being nominated for an award or having a hit. But you've got to keep going," states Yellowbird.

"Native Musicians in the Groove" was a finalist in Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2010, Independent Publisher's Moonbeam Awards 2010 and Multicultural Nonfiction Young Adult, Bronze Award.

This book should be shared with Native youth so they can discover the positive role American Indian models who worked hard to make names for themselves in the music industry.

The book is a quick read, but will not disappoint those interested in finding out more about Native musicians.

Here is a list of the American Indian musicians featured in "Native Musicians in the Groove":

  • Michael Bucher, Cherokee: music to protect sacred sites
  • Mary Youngblood, Seminole/Aleut: Native American flutist
  • Crystal Shawanda, Ojibwe: country music singer
  • Blackfire, Navajo: music that combines punk rock and traditional
  • Leela Gilday, Dene: singer with a message of hope and empowerment
  • Four Rivers Drum, variety of tribal affiliations: Powwow drum group
  • Jamie Coon, Creek/Seminole: singer who combines jazz and pop rock
  • Mato Nanji, Nakota Sioux: guitarist and leader of the band Indigenous
  • Shane Yellowbird, Cree: country music singer
  • Gabriel Ayala, Pascua Yaqui: classical guitarist.

Native Musicians in the Groove
By Vincent Schilling
Native Voices | 116 pp | $9.95
ISBN: 9780977918348

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