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Exclusive Interview with R. Carlos Nakai

Posted on 14 March 2011 by lreed

At what age did you start learning how to play the flute?
About 21 or so while in transition from military to civilian life.

How did you learn how to play?
Applying my background in music theory and practice and upon finding the standard concert flute in C fingering chart.

What inspires/motivates your music?
As a photographer and graphic artist, music fulfills my innermost expressionism and experiences of beingness.

Out of all your albums which is your favorite? And why?
That’s easy! “CHANGES”, my first recording, is always my favorite because it launched me in a new direction full of possibilities.

Where do you grow up? Where do you live now?
I grow wherever I happen to be from one moment to the next. I have two homes, one in northern Sonora in an O’odham village called Chuk’saan and the other upon the Weeminuche’ Uncompahgre Plateau. Mostly, I live on airlines.

Out of all the places you have performed which was your favorite and why?
That would be craters in Volcanoes National Park on Hawai’I and later performing with Keola and Moanalani Beamer in Kamuela. My spirit comes from Polynesia.

Are you working on any projects or upcoming albums?
Yes, three but of those which will make it to Canyon Records will be discerned as each becomes finalized.

What kinds of music or artist influenced you?
Besides traditional ceremonial music of the Mojave, Chemehuevi, Yuma, Cahuilla, Hopi, Athapascans and Celts, I have always liked the music of many world cultures both old and modern.

Can you tell me about your cultural heritage?
I’m one of a number of peoples. I am born into the Red Willow people and born for the Mountain people of the Bear kiva. I am also born through my mother’s people for the Corn and Deer kivas of the Ashiwi. I also carry the blood of my ancient ancestor of the northern Spanish Celtic peoples.

If you had a chance to work with anyone you wanted whom would it be and why?
Saami, Senegalese, Mongolian, Moroccan dreamers of sound and silence. No particular individual strikes me at the moment.

Talisman is Nakai

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