Happy Sunday, Everyone. Today’s featured artist is R.Carlos Nakai. My all time favorite Native American artist. Enjoy your day.
Ray Carlos Nakai (a.k.a. R Carlos Nakai ) was born in Flagstaff Arizona on April 16, 1946 and now resides in Tucson, Arizona. He is a Native American of Navajo-Ute heritage who began his musical career as a freshman at Northern Arizona University studying brass instruments and playing in the NAU marching band. In his sophomore year he enlisted in the US Navy with the hope of eventually playing in the Armed Forces Band. He passed the highly competitive auditions for the Armed Forces School of Music and was 28th on the waiting list for admission. Playing with the Armed Forces Band became impossible, however, because an auto accident damaged his mouth making it impossible to produce the correct embouchure to continue playing brass instruments. Shortly after this accident, he was presented with a gift of a traditional Native American cedar flute and challenged to master it.
Nakai says that most of his inspiration comes from the expressions of native communities and his desire to preserve his own Native American heritage. In addition, he likes to blend his native music with that of other cultures thereby helping to preserve their heritage as well. To that end, he has collaborated with a Japanese folk ensemble, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Israeli cellist Udi Bar-David, and many others. He has worked with American composer Philip Glass Tibetan flutist Nawang Khechog and flutist Paul Horn. A 2005 collaboration with slack key guitar master Keola Beamer fused two very different indigenous American cultural forms and resulted in the album “our Beloved Land.” He has expressed his philosophy and views of Native American culture in the modern world in an interview with Native Digest.
The Library of Congress has more than 30 of his recordings preserved in the American Folklife Center.