As today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, it is only right to appreciate the culture and art of Native Americans throughout history. While there have been many influential artists across all mediums, Native Americans have impacted music more than most people realize. To highlight some of these icons, the Clog has created a playlist filled with songs crafted by indigenous singers and bands.
“Please Be Kind” by Mildred Bailey
Born in 1907 on a reservation in Idaho, Mildred Bailey graced the jazz scene next to artists like Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole. She shined during the late 1930s through the 1940s, evening having her own radio show on CBS. Her song, “Please Be Kind” will transport you back to the speakeasies Bailey frequently found herself working at.
“Come And Get Your Love” by Redbone
While their name isn’t typically well-known, many are familiar with the song, “Come And Get Your Love” (thanks Guardian of the Galaxy). Redbone’s music during the 1970s was true rock n’ roll, embedded with both soulful rhythms and catchy lyrics. Nothing could better define funky rock than this band. For another fantastic tune by the group, check out “With Queen of New Orleans.”
“Rumble” by Link Wray
Another artist who carved the path for great rock music was Link Wray. Many classic artists such as Iggy Pop found inspiration in Wray, specifically in his song “Rumble.” Just listening to the guitar riff can make any rocker weak in the knees, with chords echoing throughout the generations.
“Just Another Holy Man” by Floyd Westerman
Floyd Westerman was a part of the Sisseton-Wapheton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. Along with his involvement with acting (he can be seen in “Dances with Wolves”), Westerman took to the stage and crafted two full-length albums. Those who listen to”Just Another Holy Man” automatically connect with this singer’s brilliant storytelling abilities as well as the emotion that exudes through both his guitar and voice.
“Universal Soldier” by Buffy Sainte-Marie
Another great Native American folk singer is Buffy Sainte-Marie. Her voice carries a unique melody, giving each word their own note to float on. She used her music not only to entertain, but to address serious issues going on in the world as well. Her song, “Universal Solider” is a true protest song of the 1960s.
“Retribution” by Tanya Tagaq
Tanya Tagaq has a revolutionary sound that is of her own. In 2014, Tagaq won the Polaris Prize for best Canadian album, for Animism. Tagaq extends her extraordinary Inuit throat singing abilities to larger audiences, highlighting the strength and skills that she learned her community.
“Silence is a Weapon” by Black Fire
Venturing into metal music, Black Fire expresses the frustrations that many Native Americans have felt during their lives. The band is comprised of three siblings, all of who were inspired to go into music by their father, a Navajo singer. Listening to their song, “Silence is a Weapon,” everyone can take note from their lyrics during this politically-charged time in history.
We at the Clog hope you have enjoyed these artists, learned a bit more about Native Americans and have a educational Indigenous Peoples’ Day!
Kirsty Fowler is the blog editor. Contact Kirsty Fowler at [email protected].