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 Contemporary music in Native languages
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1264 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2015 :  2:25:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As I have long been a fan of Innu folk & rock, including of course the former duo Kashtin from Maniutenam in Quebec/Canada but also many other bands and musicians, some of whom I got to meet in person, I occasionally look around on the web to see what other rock, blues, folk, country, reggae or even hiphop there may be in Native/indigenous languages. Over the years, I have found quite a few in Canada, some in Alaska, but very few in the continental US. Sharon Burch and Joanne Shenandoah come to mind, plus a few musicians who had one or two songs in their Native language but mainly write and sing in English, and others who inject a few lines of their language in an otherwise English song, such as Apache Spirit from Whiteriver, AZ and their signature song "The Life Song". Local crowds used to go wild every time they started that song, I don't even know if they still perform it as the band is now in its second and third generation.
But about a year ago, I started looking south of the border online. At first, I looked up Sonoran bands and found one, Hamac Caziim (Comcaac / Seri)
Once I expanded that search, I realized that there is MUCH more such music in Mexico and Guatemala, and something like a "movement" or "cluster" of Tsotsil rock bands that all come from one of two small Native towns in Chiapas. I have been listening to their music and reading up on them for a while now, even exchanged a few emails with some of them, and I like those bands and their music a lot, so I thought I'd share a few links.

These guys are my favorite, Yibel Jmetik Banamil from Chamula:

From the same town, the band Vayijel:

From the neighboring town of Zinacantan, a young psychedelic rock/blues band called Lumaltok:

And for those who understand Spanish, a longer interview with the lead singer of Lumaltok and intersected music clips:

There are several more...

Edited by - Tiri2 on 08/01/2015 5:54:01 PM


1264 Posts

Posted - 08/02/2015 :  2:57:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Just adding some more...

This is a guy who sings in Yucatec Maya, reggae, and I couldn't stop listening to his music when I first came across it. His name is Santiago Pat Santos, but he also goes by Santos Santiago. Sadly, when I tried to buy his first CD (he now has a second one out), the logistics of selling abroad proved too difficult for him. He won a Maya music competition years ago and otherwise seems to perform as a one-man band at cafes and events in and near the town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto in the state of Quintana Roo. His contest song:
Contest video where he tells his story (Spanish subtitles), the contest performance is at the end:
Another recording:

Then there are some more from the same two Tsotsil towns as the bands I mentioned above:
Hektal, a young band introduced as doing ska/reggae, rock:

Then the band that seems to have started the Tsotsil rock, Sak Tzevul. Some of the members of the other, younger bands have called this band the "first generation" of rock in their language and refer to themselves as the second generation.
The two ladies playing with the band are Japanese.

But there is also Tsotsil hiphop:
Slajem K’op

And Hiphop in Guatemala (I didn't catch which Mayan language)
Tz´utu Bak´tun Kan

And there are more bands in Mexico, different styles, for example this one:
Janikua from Michoacan, singing in Purhepecha, but maybe not all the time.

This young man, Tlalok Guerrero, sings in Zapoteco, an older song described as a classic originally by Cesar Lopez.

Once I searched for the original, I found these clips. What an amazing voice. From the state of Oaxaca, maybe 1960s I would guess.

Edited by - Tiri2 on 08/02/2015 2:58:29 PM
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1264 Posts

Posted - 08/07/2015 :  02:53:07 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The Mexican government is sponsoring a music contest in Los Angeles, September 24 through 26, for musicians of Mexican heritage who speak and sing contemporary music styles / fusion in one of the 68 indigenous Mexican languages:
Musicians must be under 35 years of age and must reside in the US. Sign-up is until August 17.
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1264 Posts

Posted - 10/31/2015 :  6:39:06 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
And back to Canada:

Cree teens record music
A guy hired with a mobile recording studio makes it possible, very cool:
"N'WE JINAN" - Cree Nation Artists - OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO:
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384 Posts

Posted - 11/02/2015 :  06:37:06 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I haven' looked at this forum in a long time but was delighted to find your posts when I did. I've only had time to sample a couple of these groups but was amazed at the talent. I had never listened to indigenous bands from the south before, don't ask me why. I will be sure to make the time to go through the whole list and probably save most of them. Thank you for the info.
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1264 Posts

Posted - 11/03/2015 :  01:57:14 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Glad to hear someone else likes it. Lately I've been watching all the clips of Lumaltok from their concerts, which the band members post on their Facebook pages. In some of the older clips, they are still in their late teens or early 20s, but now in their mid to late 20s the 7 year old band seems to have a busy schedule at events allover Mexico but also at small blues venues. At first I thought the lead singer and songwriter/composer, Julian who goes by "Zanate", was doing a bit too much drama and faking the facial expressions, but how wrong that was. That guy is crazy-good. Here a clip from last year, rocking a small venue and talking to the audience in both Spanish and Tsotsil:
And here one from last week, the entire band obviously enjoying what they do:
This is a tv report on the band that shows their town, also Julian's father who is a farmer and who is proud that his son is in college, and the reporter follows 3 of the band members who are students into their language and culture studies class:
The fourth young band member is said to have a day job in the flower growing agriculture of that town. All these young people seem to be completely fluent bilingual, just as the other young Tsotsil bands.

Also a few more clips by Yibel Jmetik Banamil. I like how they often start out with their traditional instruments, including the harp, and then switch to electric guitars in the same song:
And how they rock away in their traditional clothes, sometimes including shortpants and sandals:
Don't need black leather or tough-guy boots to be a rock star. They appear to be known for their style of "fusion" between traditional themes and rock versions of traditional songs.
They also seem to do programs for school children, here telling them midway "value your languages".

Wish I could hear them live or find a way of getting them invited to an event here in Arizona.

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1264 Posts

Posted - 11/29/2015 :  11:57:25 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My latest purchase is once again an album by a Canadian musician, "Nake De" by Digawolf. Sung in the Tlicho/Dogrib language, from Yellowknife, NW Territories. They sell it online, for download. The singer/songwriter, Diga = Dzoetsč = Jesse, with his band just released a new album this month, "Great Northern Man", that seems to be in both English and Tlicho, and they had their CD release party last night. Funny thing is that I just found their website through a link on a friend's facebook page, then realized that this is the same musician who wrote to me 13 years ago with questions back when I had a music website. Great to see how successful they are. I like his deep, raspy voice and plan to get his new album too.
Band website:
Their Facebook page:
A video, not in Tlicho but in English, "The Trapper"
This song in Tlicho is on their newest album:
An interview four years ago:

Edited by - Tiri2 on 11/29/2015 11:59:04 AM
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1264 Posts

Posted - 07/09/2016 :  8:18:17 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Last winter, the Tsotsil Rockbands Lumaltok and Yibel started selling their albums by mail order to the US. Lumaltok pioneered the process with me as their first buyer on this side of the border, and then Yibel followed. It took a bunch of emails back and forth, I paid through Western Union, and about 2 to 3 weeks later I received the carefully wrapped packages by certified mail.

But now Lumaltok entered into a distributor deal that put their latest album "Vukub ja'vil ta Lumaltok" / "Seven Years in the Fog" on Amazon in mp3 format:
on the Apple store in ITunes:
and in other online stores. So, finally they are available around the world, and I hope they'll do great, and that they'll eventually tour abroad.
Here is a recent video the band made from snapshots over the years:
A recent TV interview:
And this was an entire professionally recorded concert in 2014:
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1264 Posts

Posted - 04/13/2017 :  01:14:11 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Digawolf and Lumaltok are both nominated for the Indigenous Music Awards in Canada, Digawolf in the Rock category and Lumaltok in Best International Indigenous Release.

And Yibel released a new album called "Kibeltik",
Their first album can be heard here:

Vayijel relaesed an EP for download and put out sing along videos like these:

Edited by - Tiri2 on 04/13/2017 01:46:30 AM
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