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Musicians shine at LA celebration

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - American Indian musicians rocked Los Angeles in February with contemporary sounds during Grammy week in hopes of stirring up interest in the rich talent found in the "Red Nation" music scene.

The Red Nation Celebration launched its first presentation with performances by "Redbone," the "Mankillers," "Red Hawk" and many others.

"This is the new sound of rock 'n' roll," said co-organizer Joanelle Romero. "American Indian music, our sound, has been around for centuries and was the original music which sprang from the soul of the land."

Actors Gary Busey, Larry Sellers, Gary Farmer and Nathan Chasing Horse were in attendance as was radio personality Shadoe Stevens and singer Julie Christianson.

Romero said the whole idea was to introduce musical acts to record label executives and the mainstream music industry at large ? in town for the Grammys.

From traditional drum music to blues and rap, the musical acts spanned the genres. The show began with the powerful sound of the "Mankillers," an all-Indian woman's drum group which performed traditional songs usually reserved for men singers at pow wows.

"Sage," made up of three 13-year-olds performed their own brand of alternative Indian rap music. Band leader Sage has been singing since she was 5 and acting since she was 3. She appeared in Oliver Stone's film, "The Doors," and danced with Michael Jackson in his video, "Black and White."

The Arizona-based "Skychasers" provided an acoustic rock set of originals while "Red Hawk," fronted by Romero, performed its own brand of "Indian country blues." Romero, who starred in the seminal Indian film "Pow Wow Highway," is the first American Indian artist to perform on last year's all-woman Lilith Fair Tour.

The Red Nation Celebration concert series was created by Spirit World Productions in 1995 as part of Santa Fe's annual Indian Art Market.

Gary Robinson, co-organizer of the event said, the group plans to create a television musical special from footage shot at this year's Celebration. The production is tentatively titled, "Native Rock: The music of contemporary Indian America."

"It's wonderful to see the kind of support we've been getting from sponsors and non-Indian artists who want to contribute to our effort," Romero said. "We believe it's time for the music industry to recognize the sound as part of true Indigenous American music."