It's mid-summer and native people are on the powwow trail, crossing both Canada and the U.S. to visit Aboriginal communities hosting powwows where dancers, drummers and singers have gathered. Usually, money is awarded to the top participants, but more important, it is a time to meet up with old friends, make new ones and visit with family.
CBC Aboriginal was inspired to put some powwow picks together, including both traditional and contemporary powwow music. These are tracks that'll keep your feet moving to the heartbeat drum.
1. Northern Cree is a legend in powwow history. The supergroup comes from Saddle Lake, Alta., and has been performing for more than 30 years, with 37 albums recorded. Northern Cree is the only traditional Canadian Aboriginal group to have ever been nominated for a Grammy Award and has also been nominated for Junos, Native American Music Awards and Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.
The below video catches Northern Cree in full energy at Grey Eagle Casino powwow, where the band placed second as best drum group in 2010. However, in 2012, the annual Gathering of Nations, North America's biggest powwow, had Northern Cree walking away with the title of best drum group.
2. Bear Creek is a contemporary drum group from the Sault Ste. Marie area, specifically the Rankin reserve, in Ontario. Having formed in 1998, the group is relatively young compared to traditional groups on this list. Bear Creek travels extensively throughout Canada and the United States playing the powwow circuit.
3. Red Bull Singers hail from Little Pine Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. The group has been together for 25 years, travelling the trail and winning drum group championships. In the below video, Red Bull Singers perform a haunting and beautiful round dance song called "Darling Don't Cry." Edmund Bull and Buffy Sainte-Marie co-wrote this track, and it won a Juno in 1995.
4. There wouldn’t be a powwow without a contest for female backup singers. Traditionally, women are only backup singers, but despite being called "backup," they change the way songs are heard. Gabrielle Knife, from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in the U.S., captures your attention with her stunning vocals and engaging presence. In this video, Knife is singing with Omaha Standing Eagle-Macy at the Rosebud Casino powwow in 2006.
5. Young Bear is a champion drum group that confirmed its status as best drum group at the 2012 Gathering of Nations in Alberquerque, N.M. It's made up of young men from the Fort Berthold reserve in North Dakota and has performed across Turtle Island. Watch Young Bear kill it at the Gathering of Nations' grand entry with "Sophia's Song."
An honourable mention goes to the song "Facebook Drama" by Northern Cree. It is a great, modern-day, round dance song about finding heartbreak through technology. This song shows that drum groups can keep up with the times and have a sense of humour.
What do you think of our picks? Let us know in the comments.
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on Jul 23, 2012