"The Encyclopedia of Native Music recognizes the multifaceted contributions made by Native recording artists by tracing the history of their commercially released music. It provides an overview of the surprising abundance of recorded Native music while underlining its historical value, organized by genre for quick reference." With almost 1,800 entries spanning over 100 years, this book leads readers from early performers of traditional songs like William Horncloud to artists of the new millennium such as Zotigh. Along the way, it includes entries for jazz and blues artists never widely acknowledged for their Native roots - Oscar Pettiford, Mildred Bailey, and Keely Smith - and traces the recording histories of contemporary performers like Rita Coolidge and Jimmy Carl Black, "the Indian of the group" in the original Mothers of Invention. It also includes film soundtracks and compilation albums that have been instrumental in bringing many artists to popular attention. In addition to music, it lists spoken word recordings including audio books, comedy, interviews, poetry, and more.
Canadian music journalist and radio producer/host Wright-McLeod has compiled an essential reference work on the subject of Native American music recordings measuring its influence on the entire spectrum of North American music, not excepting classical. Though the core of the book consists of reservation-based artists, there is also much information on mainstream artists (e.g., Buffy Sainte-Marie, Rita Coolidge). The book is organized into sections like "Arctic/Circumpolar Region," "Chicken Scratch," and "Powwow Music." Entries typically include Native affiliation, music genre, biography/ description, discography, and a list of appearances; compilations are briefly described and often include the lineup of artists. Discographies are bound to go out of date soon, but future editions are promised, and the author solicits additional information from readers to inform these editions. Bottom Line While several books tackle this subject from a more academic perspective (see the section on "Music of the American Indians/First Nations in the United States and Canada" in The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: The United States and Canada), this book is unique in focusing on recordings alone and in attempting to present the widest possible array of Native artists. Highly recommended.-Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., Kingsville Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“I cannot say enough good things about this book.. The author, whose twenty years as a Native radio host and Native music columnist provide him an insider’s knowledge, has written a truly encyclopedic volume that combines discography, biographical sketches, and the history and cultural backgrounds of the many categories of Native music that now exist”—Parabola
Brian Wright-McLeod (Dakota-Anishnabe) began working as a music journalist in 1979. His column "Dirty Words and Thoughts about Music" appears bimonthly in News from Indian Country. His activist work in Native rights took him to the airwaves on CKLN 88.1 FM in Toronto in 1985, where he continues to produce and host Renegade Radio, a live two-hour weekly music and issues program.