MILWAUKEE ? New names stand out in the short list of nominees for the fifth annual Native American Music Awards announced here June 18. The elaborate ceremony underscored the broad range of talent in American Indian music and the diversity of Indian culture itself.
NAMA's Advisory membership selected five nominees each in some 30 categories, choosing from over 140 recordings submitted by performers, record companies and fans. The initial field, said the announcement, was "the most dynamic array of musical genres submitted in all of NAMA's five-year history."
Newcomers took many of the multiple nominations, led by the powerful blues-pop singer Martha Redbone with four. Janice-Marie, Micki Free, Howard Lyon and Gary Small will also compete in two or more categories, along with more established names like Radmilla Cody, Joanne Shenandoah and Mary Youngblood.
The nomination gave a special vindication to Redbone, who is emphasizing her mixed black and Indian heritage. (Her stage name "Redbone" in fact, is slang in her native North Carolina for blacks with Indian ancestors.) "I'm just really pleased that both sides of my heritage are acknowledged," she said. "It makes me feel whole to be accepted by this committee."
The announcement ceremony featured special performances by some of this year's new nominees: ? Jana (Single of the Year), Robert Tree Cody (Best World Music Recording) and Micki Free (Debut Artist/Male Artist/Best Rock-Pop Recording).
Statements came from organizers of the upcoming awards ceremony, which will take place in Milwaukee on Sept. 7. Speakers included Jim Warren, president of Indian Summer Festivals Inc., Mary Denis of the Greater Milwaukee Visitors and Convention Bureau, and Ellen Bello, president and CEO of NAMA.
Winners of the awards will be determined through membership ballots and a national on-line voting campaign opening to the general public. Music selections from all nominated recordings are also available on the Awards' web site www.nammys.com.
Over 30 categories appear on this year's national voting ballot including a new category for Best Christian/Gospel Recording. The eligibility period for nomination was April 1, 2001, through March 31.