PHOENIX - New music by GRAMMY winner Johnny Mike and GRAMMY-nominated signers Alex E. Smith and Cheevers Toppah has been released, along with two other albums from Canyon Records.
Canyon Records announced the release of four new albums from their label in February, including ''My Spirit Soars,'' by Johnny Mike; ''Precious Friends: Songs for Children,'' by Radmilla Cody; ''Harmony Nights: Native American Vocal Harmony,'' by Smith, Toppah and Nitanis ''Kit'' Landry; and ''Elements: Meditation Songs from the Dine','' by Louie Gonnie.
Smith, Pawnee/Sauk and Fox, and Toppah, Kiowa/Navajo, released ''Harmony Nights,'' their second album with Canyon Records, and were joined by Landry, Ojibwe. The three singers effortlessly blend their vocal talents to create stirring songs woven in lush harmonies. With uplifting, soul-inspiring vocals, the trio demonstrates the brilliance and expressive power of the human voice. Featured artists Gonnie, Anthony Wakeman and Thunder Hill also lend their talents to ''Harmony Nights.''
In 2004, Smith joined with fellow singer Toppah to forge an unprecedented vocal sound, blending southern Plains pow wow singing with choral hymnody. Their debut recording, ''Intonation,'' was nominated for multiple awards and was a finalist at the 2005 GRAMMY Awards for Best Native American Album. Both Smith and Toppah travel extensively with their drum group, Thunder Hill.
Mike, Navajo, released his second solo peyote recording with ''My Spirit Soars.'' Mike expresses the healing power and renewing spirituality of the peyote ritual in these harmonized songs. Peyote songs, accompanied by rattle and drum, are musical prayers of the Native American Church, intended to enhance peace and harmony.
Mike's grandparents were some of the first to use peyote within the Navajo Nation. Among Mike's recordings with Verdell Primeaux, ''Walk in Beauty'' was a finalist for a 1996 National Association of Independent Record Distributors Indie Award. ''Sacred Path'' was a finalist for a 1998 Association for Independent Music Indie Award, while ''Peyote Songs of the Native American Church'' was a winner of the 1998 New Age Voice Music Award for Traditional Native American Music and the 1998 NAMMY for Best Traditional Album. ''Gathering of Voices'' was a 1999 finalist for an AFIM Award, and in 2002 ''Bless the People'' won a GRAMMY for Best Native American Album.
Gonnie, Navajo, released ''Elements,'' containing his latest collection of songs and marking his second recording with Canyon Records. With layers of subtle vocals and spiraling melodies, Gonnie honors the elements of life with songs enriched by his Navajo heritage. Against the backdrop of gentle rain, blowing wind, shifting earth and crackling flame, these songs bring healing to the spirit and peace to the mind.
Gonnie composed these songs with the same intention as his previous recording, ''Sacred Mountains,'' a winner at the 2005 Indian Summer Music Awards for Best Traditional Vocal Album. ''Elements'' is a continuation of the thoughts and ideas to further expand the understanding of Native culture through songs and melodies. Composed in the Dine' language, these songs are about the sacred elements of fire, water and earth.
In Cody's third recording with Canyon Records, the award-winning Navajo singer presents songs for children with ''Precious Friends.'' These songs include well-loved classics with Navajo lyrics and original compositions by noted educator and songwriter Herman Cody. Navajo lyrics with English translations are included in the album's booklet.
Many songs include sounds that are common on the
reservation including a truck horn on ''Buy a Vehicle,'' the bahing of a baby lamb on ''Bah, Bah Black Sheep'' and rolling thunder on ''Eensie Weensie Spider.'' A sure favorite for Navajo youth will be ''Fry Bread Song,'' with piano and vocals that inspires visions of the bubbling fry bread in the pan.
Cody's first recording with Canyon Records, ''Seed of Life,'' was a 2002 AFIM Indie Awards winner for Best Native American Music Album. Cody also received the Best Female Artist Award at the 2002 Native American Music Awards. In 2005, Cody's second album, ''Spirit of a Woman,'' was a finalist for an Indian Summer Music Award for Best Folk Album.
Based in Phoenix, Canyon Records has produced and distributed traditional and contemporary Native music for 56 years. For more information, visit www.canyonrecords.com.