ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The musical ambassadors of the American Indian Movement have stepped up to the microphone once again to inspire a whole new generation of contemporary American Indians. XIT's July release of "Without Reservation" is a celebration of its 30th anniversary as originators of American Indian Rock.
XIT (pronounced exit) stands for "Crossing of Indian Tribes," said group founder Tom Bee in a Nov. 11 interview with Indian Country Today. "The message in our lyrics is basically [AIM's] platform set to music ? We joined forces and did many benefits in conjunction with AIM across the country."
The hard-rocking group, with a style reminiscent of the Talking Heads, first formed in the late '60s and took its current form by the early '70s. "While other groups were singing about 'come and get some love,' we were telling America 'come and see your injustices,'" said Bee.
The group's civil rights activism created friction with conservative media companies. Motown Records came forward and released XIT's first two albums "Plight of the Redman" in 1972 and "Silent Warrior" in 1973. "Without Reservation" is comprised of live versions of 10 hit songs from those albums.
"In a way it's sad that our first two albums are still selling. It only shows that nothing much has changed in the past 30 years and that our message is a valid today as it was yesterday," said Bee.
Often described as the American Indian equivalent of the Beatles, the group's members have gained legendary status and have each gone on to become highly successful with other projects.
Tom Bee, Lakota, is the group's lead vocalist, lyricist and founder. Bee has written songs for such greats as Michael Jackson and Smokey Robinson. He is also the founder and CEO of Sound of America Records (SOAR). Bee was the recipient of Native American Music Awards for "Best Producer," 1998 and "Lifetime Achievement," 1999. He also shared a 2001 "Best Native American Album" Grammy with Douglas Spotted Eagle for co-producing "Gathering of Nations Pow Wow."
The mayor of Albuquerque declared July 27 to be "Tom Bee Day" in recognition of his accomplishments as a recording artist, record producer and multi-award winner.
Lead guitarist Willy Bluehouse, Isleta/Dine, is a member of Native Roots who - along with numerous other awards - won this year's "Best World Album" Nammy for "Rain Us Love." Guitarist Jim Boyd, Colville, won the 2002 Nammy for "Record of the Year" with his album "Alter Natives."
Obie Sullivan, Creek, is keyboardist for XIT and plays with the popular Oklahoma group Blues Nation. Drummer P.J. West, Cherokee/Hispanic, has been recorded on many award-winning projects as a studio performer. Bassist Louie "Running Wolf" Lomavitu, Hopi, has formed a band with former Redbone guitarist Tony Bellamy called RED-X. They plan on recording an album in the very near future.
Ulali members Jennifer Kreisberg and Pura F?, both Tuscarora, provide background vocals with a guest appearance on "Without Reservation" as the "X'ettes."
"Without Reservation" is available both as a live audio CD and as a video documentary on VHS and DVD. The documentary is narrated by Floyd Red Crow Westerman whom you might recognize from his role as Ten Bears in the 1990 film "Dances with Wolves," or as the recurring character He Who Waits on the TV series "Northern Exposure."
Westerman, a 2002 recipient of the "Living Legend" Nammy, was one of the executive producers of the documentary. His production company, Red Crow Creations, along with his associate Chuck Banner, handled the technical production of the film and started a program at the Southern California Indian Center to train young American Indian students in the field of video production, editing and writing.
XIT's other albums include "Entrance," which was recorded in the '60s but not released by Canyon Records until 1974 after the success of the first two albums; "Relocation," a 1977 release with Canyon Records and "Drums Across the Atlantic," recorded live in Europe in 1981 and released by SOAR. All XIT albums are now available through SOAR.
For more information about XIT and SOAR please write to the SOAR Corporation, P.O. Box 8606, Albuquerque, NM 87198, phone (505) 268-6110, fax (505) 268-0237 or visit the web site at www.soundofamerica.com