Native GRAMMY nominees bring up new names

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NEW YORK - New faces emerged in the third go-round for the Native American category in the annual GRAMMY Awards nominations, announced at a star-packed press conference at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 7. In fact, the best known American Indian nominee, flutist R. Carlos Nakai, will be competing in an entirely separate category, Best New Age Album, in which he once received a rare double nomination.

In the running for Best Native American Music Album are Mary Youngblood for "Beneath the Raven Moon" (Silver Wave Records), Randy Wood for "Round Dance the Night Away" (Canyon Records), Vince Redhouse for "Faith in the House" (Red Sea), Redheart for "Sacred Season" (SOAR), and Burning Sky for "Spirits in the Wind" (Canyon Records).

R. Carlos Nakai was nominated for "Fourth World" also produced by Canyon Records. The Indigenous people of New Zealand received a very indirect nod in the Best Score Soundtrack category. "The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring" score composed by Howard Shore includes a Maori chorus in one of its eeriest sequences. Shore's composition gave Indigenous people their only toehold at last year's Oscar ceremonies, where it won for Best Score.

More than 100 awards will be presented Feb. 23 at the 45th Annual GRAMMYs? in New York City.

Mary Youngblood, Aleut and Seminole, is one of the first Native women to record with the Native flute, an instrument traditionally reserved for men. Her album "Beneath the Raven Moon" also showcases Youngblood's voice.

Randy Wood, Cree, is a founding member of the Northern Cree Singers, which received a NAMMY nomination in 2002 for the recording "Rockin' the Rez." "Round Dance the Night Away," Wood's first solo recording, features original round dance songs.

Vince Redhouse, member of a prominent family of Navajo musicians and spiritual leaders, presents Contemporary Christian instrumentals featuring praise and worship songs in "Faith in the House". Vince, who also plays tenor saxophone and guitar with the Redhouse family, says he was deeply influenced growing up by his father who sang Navajo chants and an uncle who listened to jazz.

Redheart's "Sacred Season" is a collection of seasonal music featuring Native American flutes, drums and assorted wind and percussion instruments from around the globe.

"Spirits in the Wind" is Burning Sky's fourth album with Canyon Records and their first album in four years. Burning Sky is comprised of Aaron White, Navajo/Ute, on Native flute and acoustic guitar, and Kelvin Mockingbird, Navajo, on Native flute. John Densmore of the Doors added percussion for this recording. Densmore and White have collaborated on other musical projects and have conducted workshops with young musicians on the Navajo reservation.

R. Carlos Nakai, a leading performer of the Native flute, received his fifth career nomination this year. In 1994 Nakai's third collaboration with harp-guitarist William Eaton, "Ancestral Voices," was a GRAMMY nominee for Best Traditional Folk Album. In 2000, Nakai earned a double nomination in the New Age category for "Inner Voices" and "Inside Monument Valley." "In A Distant Place," which features Eaton, percussionist Will Clipman and Tibetan flutist Nawang Khechog, was a 2001 GRAMMY nominee.

"Fourth World" is Nakai's second collaboration with arranger Billy Williams. The success of their GRAMMY nominated album "Inner Voices," inspired them to return to the studio, this time adding the textures of brass, oboe and ethnic percussion to a 35-piece string orchestra.

The awards ceremony will be held at Madison Square Garden in New York and will air on the CBS Television Network from 8 - 11:30 p.m. (EST) on Feb. 23. This will be the first GRAMMY Awards show in New York City since 1998 and the first-ever Sunday broadcast.