/ Articles / LdF youth among national nominees for music award

LdF youth among national nominees for music award

October 15, 2019 by Abigail Bostwick

Six students from Lac du Flambeau are among the elite finalists for a 2019 Native American Music Award (NAMA).

The album “Hear Our Songs,” from the Nijii Singers and the Ogichidaa Singers was written, recorded and released last spring. Last week, the musicians learned they are a finalist in the New or Debut Duo/Group of the Year Category at the 19th annual NAMA. 

“Internationally, only six were chosen in each category. This is an amazing testament to what persistence, hard work, and talent can do,” former teacher and consultant at LdF Public School Carol Ann Amour said. “It also reinforces how important having cultural connection at our school is.”

NAMA is held each year in Niagara Falls, New York. This year’s NAMA will be Saturday, Nov. 2.

Students, ranging from grades third through ninth, include Victoria Cahak, Skylee LaBarge, Shayeleigh Burnett, Rachel Jack, Trysten Belille Mustache, Jasmine Plasky, Alton Jackson, Leland King, Michael Schuman and Grason Jackson.

“The impact of music on our students opens up creativity and displays awesome talent,” LdF Public School director of cultural connections Brian Jackson said.

The local community can support the young musicians by public voting at www.NAMALIVE.com and by clicking on the “Vote Now” tab. Final voting results determine the winner of each category. 

Music tracks from all nominees are also featured on the NAMA website.

“The Nijii Singers have been working with NAMA award-winning singer-songwriter Bobby Bullet (Music on the Go director) and his wife, Pamela (Music on the Go assistant director), for several years and this past year concentrated on song writing,” Amour observed. “The Music on the Go program at the Lac du Flambeau School has introduced scores of students to playing guitar, singing, writing lyrics and composition. Topics for their songs run the gamut of thinking about how to live in a good way.”

“It gives voice to the young people’s ideas and dreams in their own language by working on and supporting each other’s songwriting and everyday challenges,” Bobby Bullet said. “It’s more than songwriting. At each session, we gather and vow to support each other with love and the seven grandfather teachings.”

Practicing contemporary and traditional songwriting techniques provided a unique experience to the students, Pamela Bullet added. 

“(Plus the) Seven Grandfather teachings, each Music on the Go student writes and performs one or more brave, original songs and collaborates in writing and performing group songs,” she said. “The Nijii singers and the Ogichidaa Singers receive the world-wide respect and recognition of professional musicians and community members (here).”

The Ogichidaa Singers have been working with area musician Bernie Lemieux to learn the protocol and skill of singing on a traditional Ojibwe drum, Amour added.

“The young musicians recorded their songs in professional recording sessions early this year and shared them with the community at a CD release party at the Lake of the Torches Resort and Convention Center (LOTC),” she said. 

“LOTC also provided space for the recording sessions. They, along with the Wisconsin Indian Education Association and LdF Public School Cultural Connections Department and the entire Lac du Flambeau community, have helped to make this incredible dream a reality,” Amour said. 

Major funding for the project came from the American Indian Language Revitalization Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

CDs of “Hear Our Songs” are available locally for purchase. All funds collected from sales help continue to support the Music on the Go program.

The NAMA is the most prestigious award show for Native American music. NAMA celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the nation’s first people and promotes cultural preservation and renewal on a national level through new music initiatives, according to their mission. NAMA aims to raise awareness and appreciation of Native American culture and art both nationally, and internationally.

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