Published on January 24, 2011 by Casey
Raymond Carlos “R.” Nakai (born April 16, 1946) is a Native American flautist of Navajo/Ute heritage.
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Born Ray Carlos Nakai, in Flagstaff, Arizona, he released his first album, Changes, in 1983. He has been nominated for four Grammy Awards, and two of his records, Canyon Trilogy and Earth Spirit, have been RIAA certified Gold, two of the first Native American flute albums to go gold. In 2005 he was inducted into the Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame. As well as having a large number of solo albums, Nakai has also worked with many other musicians, including Tibetan flutist Nawang Khechog, flutist Paul Horn, and American composer Philip Glass.In 2005 he traveled to Hawaii to collaborate with slack key guitar master Keola Beamer fusing two very different indigenous American cultural forms and producing the album, “Our Beloved Land.” He lives in Tucson, Arizona. Nakai earned a Master’s Degree in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona. He was awarded the Arizona Governor’s Arts Award in 1992, and an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University in 1994.
Songkeepers (1999, 48 min.). Directed by Bob Hercules and Bob Jackson. Produced by Dan King. Lake Forest, Illinois: America’s Flute Productions. Five distinguished traditional flute artists – Tom Mauchahty-Ware, Sonny Nevaquaya, R. Carlos Nakai, Hawk Littlejohn, Kevin Locke – talk about their instrument and their songs and the role of the flute and its music in their tribes