Posts Tagged ‘Navajo soul’
In contrast to the sadness and anger of the previous story, here’s one filled with beauty. It’s about Radmilla Cody, who began her singing career outside her grandmother’s sheep corral on the Navajo Nation.
“When you’re way out in the middle of nowhere, and you’re herding sheep, and you’re spending time jumping over the salt bushes and sitting around listening to all the beautiful sounds of nature, something’s going to make you open your mouth,” Cody tells National Public Radio here:
Cody’s voice is bicultural. Her mother was Navajo, her father African-American. Now, she sings folk songs in the language of her Native American ancestors — with a twist.
Her mom was just a teenager when Radmilla was born, so she was raised by her Navajo grandmother. There was no electricity or running water, and young Radmilla Cody lived a very traditional life, learning to herd sheep, spin wool for clothing and cook meals using only what they grew or raised.
That traditional Navajo foundation was augmented by one additional cultural factor: Cody’s grandmother was Christian.
“I always remember one particular time, the church had this choir from I don’t recall where,” Cody says. “But man, they sounded so good. And I remember thinking in my mind, ‘That’s what I want to do, that’s what I want to sound like!’ “
So her albums contain both traditional songs as well as ones written by her uncle, Herman Cody, that are secular interpretations of traditional songs.
“We’re going to make these albums just as grandpa would walk behind the hogan, sit down, start making a moccasin,” Herman Cody says. “And then, he just goes at it.”
He calls his niece’s work “Navajo soul.”
Says Radmilla: “I think the soul comes in from the black side, and with the Navajo [side], just the beauty and the language in itself.”
In addition to the video above, check out this link to Cody singing the National Anthem in Navajo.