Fifth annual Nammys go to Milwaukee

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NEW YORK, N. Y. ? Fresh from celebrating its second annual Blues Festival, the Native American Music Association announced that its Fifth Annual Nammy Awards will take place this Sept. 7 in Milwaukee, Wisc.

The coveted Nammys will be presented at the Marcus Amphitheater in Milwaukee in conjunction with Indian Summer Festivals Inc., the nation's largest American Indian cultural event. Awards will come in over 30 categories, including a new test category for Best Christian/Gospel Recording.

NAMA members will sift through around 130 recordings submitted this year to arrive at five finalists in each category. The general public will vote on the final slate when it is announced in mid June. Ballots will be available through Indian-oriented publications and the Nammy award web site, www.nammys.com. Continuing an innovation of last year, the website will also provide random music selections from all nominated recordings.

The Nammy program is one of the few national music awards shows that allow the general public to participate in the voting.

The awards ceremony, a major showcase for American Indian musicians, will coincide in Milwaukee with a cultural festival that draws over 75,000 people each year. Indian Summer Festivals, Inc. was established in 1986 to promote awareness of the history and diversity of both traditional and contemporary American Indian culture. The Marcus Amphitheater seats 22,828, making it one of the most important concert venues in the Midwest.

In a somewhat smaller setting May 18, the Soboba Casino Amphitheater in San Jacinto, Calif., NAMA kicked off the celebration of its Fifth Anniversary with its second annual Blues Festival. The one-day outdoor festival featured Keith Secola & his Wild Band of Indians, Tracy Nelson & the Native Blues Band, Redman Blues Band and Arigon Starr. Special guests John Densmore of The Doors, Jim Boyd and Greg Serrato also appeared. Rodney Grant, a star of "Dances with Wolves," hosted the all-ages event.

The Native American Blues Festival began in May 2001 in the crowded Tribeca Blues Club in lower Manhattan and was an immediate hit with critics. NAMA officer Donald Kelly and President Ellen Bello say they plan a series of event to celebrate their organization's fifth year. The brainchild of Bello, a music industry publicist and event organizer, NAMA has present four annual sold-out awards shows, established the nation's largest Native American music archive and helped persuade the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, organizers of the Grammys, to add a category for American Indian music.