Celtic Indian musician Arvel Bird has been described as "Braveheart meets The Last of the Mohicans—at Woodstock" and his stage performances live up to the hype. And while the description is obviously a lighthearted one, Bird greets it positively. "People who listen to my music say I blend Native American and Celtic music really well, evoking the feelings of both Braveheart and Mohicans," he exaplins. "And because I put some folk rock rhythms in, that’s where Woodstock comes in. I blend my Pauite heritage with my Scottish clan and fans say that honoring both sides of my heritage complements each side.”
For over a decade, Bird shared stage time touring with Loretta Lynn, Louise Mandrell, Tom T. Hall, Glen Campbell, and other country greats like Shenandoah and the Gatlin Brothers—until the death of a friend caused an "a-ha! moment" that pointed him to his Tribal heritage.
"I’d been running my own recording studio in Nashville and became familiar with a community of mixed-blood Native American musicians," he recalls. "As I listened and learned, my affinity for the culture began to grow and affect my style. The Celtic influence waned until I finally decided this was who I was. I discovered that I had all this music inside of me that I wasn’t letting out until I released Animal Totems, music composed to represent the spirit of the totem powers of birds and animals. I let who I was come to the surface and discovered that my music had the gift of healing powers and people were transformed by listening to it. By focusing on the strengths of those totems and the messages they brought to me, I was able to let go of everything that was not the real me and become who I was truly meant to be."
Bird is currently seeking to fund his next album, Animal Totems 3.LINK:kickstarter.com/projects/arvelbirdat3/help-arvel-bird-bring-animal-totems-3-to-life.
IN THE BEGINNING
His fans are lucky he didn’t get his way as a child. “I had my heart set on playing the trumpet," he says. "I was a shy, timid, 9-year-old kid who thought that playing a big loud trumpet would give me the confidence I didn’t have. But we didn’t have a trumpet at home, we had a violin, and my mother made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: 'You either play that or you don't play anything'."
Thus began an eleven year study of classical compositions. "I didn’t pay much attention to popular music in high school because I was all about Vivaldi, Bach, and Beethoven," he explains. But eventually he scrapped the sheet music, the first of many rethinkings in his career. "I wanted to explore the concept of music in all its genres, so I quit taking lessons and began to play by ear, everything from folk music, bluegrass, country, and eventually rock, and blues."
WHAT HAPPENS NOW
Arvel (a Viking name meaning "in honor of someone") has accomplished much, with more goals to strive for in the future. "Most of our lives, we try to be what somebody else wants us to be—first, our parents, then school, then society," he says. "We try to fit in, instead of following our own inner guidance. Once I took those first tentative steps of following my hunches and intuition, following what my heart told me, it became easier.” Asked what his musical future holds, his response is candid: “I don’t know, perhaps easy listening jazz. I’m just trying to keep on keeping on and revealing more of myself in the process, becoming more aware of who I am. Like Michaelangelo, I’m chipping away at the rock to discover the statue, the masterpiece. And that’s what I’m doing—shedding everything that’s not me, to really become who I am.”
PERFORMER AND PERSON
On stage, Arvel Bird performs his love of diversity with passion and energy, a tapestry of violin, flute, fiddle, and whistles. "At my very core, I’m a creator of music, an artisan by genetics, and you’d think that was my purpose in life—but I’ve come to realize it’s not," he says. "My real purpose is to learn to love myself and, through music, to share that love. I went through a tough childhood and a lot of suffering growing up and music has been a part of the healing process for me. It was a medium of exploration and expression as a teenager. As a young adult, it was a way to make a living, and now in my mature adult years, I’ve discovered that my music has a deeper meaning than just entertainment. When I’m on the stage, I’m into my higher self and when I play, I hold the space for others to have their own healing.”
Says wife Kimberly: “We’re permanently on the road, connecting with audiences the old-fashioned way—live. This is where Arvel’s emotionally-driven performances thrive, igniting concert venues, symphony halls, and festivals that leave his audiences inspired, transfixed, and transformed.”