Native American trio to perform at Ozarks on April 9

Release Date: 4/4/2014

University of the Ozarks will present one of the world's premier Native American musical groups, the R. Carlos Nikai trio, at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 9, in the Rowntree Hall, located in the Walton Fine Arts Center.

R. Carlos Nikai trio

The concert, which is part of the University's Walton Arts & Ideas Series, is free and open to the public.

Of Navajo-Ute heritage, R. Carlos Nakai is considered the world's premier performer of the Native American flute. 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. Since 1983, he has released over 35 albums on the Canyon label.

While well-grounded in the traditional uses of the flute, Nakai has explored new musical settings including new age, world-beat jazz and classical. His cross-cultural collaborations have included an album with the Wind Travelin' Band, a Japanese folk ensemble and Tibetan flutist and singer Nawang Khechog on several productions including, "In A Distant Place." Nakai has earned two gold records for Canyon Trilogy and Earth Spirit and has received nine Grammy nominations. Nakai's career was shaped by a desire to communicate a sense of Native American culture and society that transcends the common stereotypes presented in mass media.

Billboard magazine said, "The haunting sound of the Native American flute is gaining more widespread appeal in recent years, and R. Carlos Nakai is the reason for it."

Supporting Nakai, is the trio's guitarist, William Eaton. A dedicated luthier (builder of stringed instruments), Eaton is widely regarded as one of the greatest inventors of stringed instruments of modern times. He plays only the instruments he has fashioned himself, as beautiful in appearance as the unique, textured music they produce.

The trio's  Grammy-nominated percussionist is Will Clipman, a multi-talented artist whose disciplines include poetry, mask-making, and storytelling. Clipman can play more than 100 instruments. His custom percussion setups include dozens of drums and shakers from cultures all over the map,  informing each performance with unique, pan-global rhythms.

A Navy veteran, 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.  In 2005, Nakai was inducted into the Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame.  Nakai has also authored a book with composer James DeMars, "The Art of the Native American Flute," which is a guide to performing the traditional cedar flute.