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Posts Tagged ‘grammy’

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Photo: Timothy Duffy
The album Black Cowboys, by Dom Flemons, retells the settling of America’s West through a new lens. It was nominated in the Best Folk Album category for a 2019 Grammy.

I’m not a big traveler. I’ve liked seeing whatever I’ve seen in distant parts of the world, but I can’t get over the idea that I’m missing a lot of interesting stuff in my own backyard — in my neighborhood, in my country.

Here is a story about a singer who was determined to use music to rescue an important swath of our country’s history from obscurity.

Ryan Heinsius writes at National Public Radio [NPR], “Dom Flemons’ latest album, Black Cowboys, is a collection of seldom-heard stories about the roles African-Americans played in settling the West after America’s Civil War. The album’s inspiration came during a road trip back home where the fifth generation Arizonan became enamored with an obscure collection of stories.

” ‘I came across a book called The Negro Cowboys that talked about how one in four cowboys who helped settle the West were African-American cowboys,’ Flemons, a co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, says. ‘And being an African-American person that’s half-African-American, half-Mexican-American from the Southwest, I just found that to be a fascinating story.’

“Now, the album has earned Flemons a 2019 Grammy nomination in the category of best folk album. …

” ‘You have people coming from slavery and emancipation and then, through their hard work and perseverance, in spite of the obstacles they had, they were able to create a new social order that still influences us to this day,’ Flemons explains.

“The former slaves-turned-settlers Flemons sings about were able to transcend segregation in the Western states. For example, Bass Reeves, the first African-American deputy U.S. Marshal in the West was likely the towering inspiration for the Lone Ranger.

“Working on the album over the course of two years became deeply personal for Flemons. His grandfather was a sawmill worker, preacher and World War II army veteran from East Texas and the musician says he sees his own family’s history in these cowboy stories. He also sees the societal legacy in these stories. ‘Steel Pony Blues’ chronicles Nat Love, who was born into slavery worked on an Arizona ranch and then became a railroad porter. That legacy, Flemons says, would eventually influence the early leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.” More at NPR, here.

And there’s a nice interview by Ja’han Jones at the Huffington Post, here, in which Flemons says, “one of the things I did for this album was visit the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. They approached me around the time I started to develop the project, so when I went there, being one of a few black people there, everybody at the event was so excited that I was doing a something about black cowboys. They knew all of these stories, but no one had ever touched this in the way I was doing. So I was given a lot of great information.”

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Someone who used to know her well alerted me to the story of the Mystery Grammy Nominee. At 51 and without a record label, she has managed to get a remarkable burst of attention for her music.

Writes Christopher Morris at Variety, “Linda Chorney used the Recording Academy’s Grammy 365 website to connect with voters.

“Armed only with a computer and some chutzpah, a longshot snuck through the back door and into the Grammy Awards competition this year.
The resourceful Linda Chorney secured a Grammy nomination in the category of Americana album for her self-produced, self-released ‘Emotional Jukebox’ by taking her mission directly to voters, employing the peer-to-peer function of the Recording Academy’s own site for members, Grammy 365.

“Many in the tight-knit Americana community have reacted quizzically, and sometimes vehemently, to Chorney’s nomination, which trumped several well-known artists in the genre. The virtually unknown Sea Bright, N.J.-based musician will face off on Feb. 12 against a field of nominees that has collectively garnered a total of 23 Grammys. And while some question her methods, her online campaign falls completely within the academy’s parameters for acceptable self-promotion.” Read more.

There are several videos on YouTube. What do you think? Leave a comment.

Follow us on twitter @LunaStellaBlog1.

Update: Chorney didn’t win a Grammy, but she has been invited to sing the national anthem at Fenway Park before an April 2012 Red Sox game, another item on her “bucket list.”

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