Two Montana American Indian musicians won Native American Music Association awards (NAMMYS) at last weekend’s 14th annual awards show in New York. Joseph FireCrow and Gary Small, both members of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, each won one NAMMY.
FireCrow was awarded the Flutist of the Year NAMMY for his album, “Night Walk.” Small and his band, the Coyote Brothers, were awarded the Best World Music Recording NAMMY for their album, “Hostiles and Renegades.”
Both men are multiple NAMMY recipients going back over a decade.
Both of these talented musicians were nominated along with four others for Artist of the Year. They were the only two nominees from the same tribe in the running for the top award.
The sold-out event was held at the Seneca Niagara Events Center in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Initially scheduled for last November, the ceremony was postponed until May 10 after Hurricane Sandy hit New England shortly before.
FireCrow was a featured performer at the ceremony; Small was a guest performer this year. They have both performed at the NAMMYS at least twice before.
According to Small, at least three of the other nominees have won Grammy Awards before.
Joseph FireCrow is one who has. He performed on David Darling’s 2009 Grammy-winning New Age Album, “Prayer for Compassion.” FireCrow has been on two other Grammy-nominated albums, including his own, “Cheyenne Nation.”
FireCrow’s NAMMY wins include Songwriter of the Year (2003), Flutist of the Year (2004 and 2010), Artist of the Year (2010), and Best Instrumental Recording in 2004 for his collaboration with composer Jim Cockey, “Parmly’s Dream” (performed with the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale). That performance was recorded at the Alberta Bair Theater in downtown Billings.
Gary Small has taken home a few NAMMYS before, as well: Songwriter of the Year (2002), Best Rock Recording (2007), as well as four other nominations along the way.
Gary Small and the Coyote Brothers perform regularly across Montana and Wyoming, occasionally in other northwestern states, and performed at Magic City Blues in downtown Billings in 2010.
NAMMYS are presented in 30 categories. Voting is done by a combination of NAMA members and a public vote through the organization’s website.
At least one other Montana tribal member was nominated this year, Shawn Michael Perry (Salish/Mayan), for Best Pop Recording for his album, “Shawn Michael Perry and Only the Brave.”
Other important awards were presented to Nelly Furtado (Living Legend) and Russell Means (Hall of Fame). Pop star Furtado is a First Nations Native Canadian. She recently featured native hoop dancers in a music video for her song, “Big Hoops (Bigger the Better).”
Means was an iconic activist, actor and author, who released a few albums of spoken word set to hip-hop beats. The one-time vice presidential candidate died in October 2012.
Past Montana NAMMY winners include Blackfoot Confederacy (Blackfeet), a powwow drum group based in Browning, Jack Gladstone (Blackfeet) and Rezawrecktion (Crow), a hip-hop group led by Supaman, based in Crow Agency.
Another scheduled highlight of this year’s show was a performance by Southern rockers Blackfoot, led by NAMA Hall of Fame member, Ricky Medlocke (longtime member of Lynyrd Skynyrd).
The ceremony was streamed live at NativeAmericanMusicAwards.com. The public is invited to sign up for e-mail notifications on the site and can register to vote in next year’s competition.