A selection from the current changing exhibit at Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. Examine the 65 year history of Canyon Records, one of the first record labels dedicated to Native American music, through the lens of photographer and Canyon Records President, Robert Doyle. The full exhibit features over 40 portraits of Canyon recording artists, instruments, videos, and premieres original music composed exclusively for this exhibit.
Edward Lee Natay was a Navajo singer known for his unique resonant voice. In 1951, he became Canyon Records first recording artist with the release of his album “Navajo Singer.” This photo, taken during Natay’s visit to Pueblo Grande, was used on the album jacket of “Navajo Singer”.
Dance Connects Past and Present
The Hohokam culture extended across central and southern Arizona from ca AD 1 – AD 1450. One of the most distinctive markers of the Hohokam culture is their red-on-buff pottery.
Depictions of stylized human figures in dance postures holding hands and moving in circles were popular motifs with Hohokam pottery makers.
This example of Hohokam red-on-buff pottery from the Pueblo Grande Museum collections communicates the rich and deep traditions of Native artistic expression in the Phoenix Basin.
Tony Duncan is of the Apache and Arikara, Hidatsa and Mandan nations. As leader of Canyon Records recording group Estun-Bah, Duncan captures the true essence of Native America with the soft, and soothing melodies of the Apache cane flute as acoustic guitar adds a serene accompaniment while drums add the beats for his dancing. Tony is also a five-time World Champion Hoop Dancer and is consistently ranked among the top ten in the world.
This portrait of the Todi Neesh Zhee Singers is the cover for their album First Night: Moonlit Nights. Albert Nelson, Jr., Alger Greyeyes, and Gary Nelson are traditional Navajo (Diné) singers. Toh’ Di’ Neesh Zhee – is the Navajo name for the town of Kayenta, AZ. Tó - is water; The very essence of life.
R. Carlos Nakai, Navajo-Ute and Diné, is a Native American flutist, and Grammy nominee, with both Platinum and Gold Records. Originally trained in classical trumpet and music theory, Nakai was given a traditional cedar wood flute as a gift and challenged to see what he could do with it. Nakai began playing the traditional Native American flute in the early 1980s and released more than 50 albums in his career (with 40 on the Canyon Records label).
Through interviews and historic photographs, discover the story of Canyon Records in this short 6 minute video.
One World, Many Voices: The Artistry of Canyon Records supports traditional and modern forms of artistic expression among the indigenous people of North America through the portrait photography of Robert Doyle.
The intent is not to depict Native artistic practice through a museological or ethnographic lens as done in the past. Nor is it simply to celebrate or romanticize Native communities and their cultures. But to reveal the universal human dignity of these recording artists working within a broad range of contemporary Native expression.
Experience the full exhibition at Pueblo Grande Museum from October 2016 through May 2017.
4619 East Washington Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85034
Portrait photography by Robert Doyle
Artifact image Courtesy Pueblo Grande Museum