FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The air is heavy with mystical reverberations. Burning Sky's fifth album, "Spirits in the Wind," (Canyon Records, 2002) has earned a nomination for Best Native American Album at the 45th Annual GRAMMY? Awards.
Aaron White, Din?/Northern Ute, and Kelvin Bizaholoni, Din?, are the core members and co-founders of Burning Sky. Native flute, acoustic guitar, rattle and didgeridoo are harmoniously melded together in the group's new age approach.
"I'm self taught and my songwriting just came out. I just wanted to express myself through music," said White in a Feb. 4 interview with Indian Country Today.
White has been playing guitar, Native flute, songwriting and singing for nearly two decades. He said he finds his inspiration in the everyday world around him and added, "I think once you awaken, or dream, inspiration is 24-7."
"Kelvin and I met through a friend and we met at my house one day. We started playing melodies with our instruments and formed our sound. The way we play our instruments and weave in and out of the song takes the listener to their own place. We don't overpower each other," said White.
Burning Sky was formed in 1993 and virtually rocketed to fame. They performed on NBC's "Today Show" and at the presidential inaugural ball. Burning Sky has also been recorded for numerous film scores including the 2002 PBS documentary "True Whispers," a story about the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II.
Former Doors' percussionist John Densmore lends his skills to the album by manning the dumbek and rattles. "I met John at [the Native American Music Awards] in 2000 and exchanged phone numbers. I had this idea of calling him to give us a certain sound on percussion. He delivered and like they say, 'the rest is history,'" said White.
White and Bizaholoni attended the 2000 NAMMY Awards because Burning Sky had been nominated for Best Instrumental Album and White's independent release "Skychasers" was up for Best Independent Album.
All the tracks on "Spirits in the Wind" are written by White and Bizaholoni except for "Little Wing." The Jimmy Hendrix estate, in a rare gesture, lent the use of "Little Wing" because they were so intrigued by the unique sound of Burning Sky.
When asked how he felt about the GRAMMY nomination White said, "It was unbelievable, just a shock. I had to call back just to see if it was a joke. We had not put out a Burning Sky recording in three years and to get nominated on this one was unreal."
White said that to have been nominated this year was especially meaningful because, "I had lost my 16-year-old son and my wife had colon cancer, it was very hard for awhile. I thought about giving up my music career. But the music is what kept me sane. I think we are all given a test to see what we are truly made of and if we can deal with whatever the Creator gives us.
"Dreams do come true. ? I made my own way, and win or not, I have been truly blessed with the gift of music."
When asked about Burning Sky's plans after the GRAMMY awards are over White said, "All the nominees have worked hard and I hope we are an inspiration to other Native musicians out there. We'll just keep passing the gift on."
To learn more about Burning Sky and Aaron White visit www.whistlingwind.com, write to Canyon Records, 3131 West Clarendon Ave., Phoenix, Ariz. 85017 or call (800) 268-1141. You can also visit www.canyonrecords.com or e-mail email@example.com.