You've heard of the Grammy awards, but the Nammys?
Tonight, the seventh annual Native American Music Awards, nicknamed the Nammys, will be presented in Hollywood, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale.
And in East Toledo, Eagle Cloud and his wife, Star, will be awaiting news of the winners. His disc, "Canhiya Voice of the Wood," is one of five nominees for best independent recording.
The disc is a compilation of 15 contemplative songs he plays in traditional style on Native American flutes carved from wood and bone.
"Nobody can teach you to play this instrument. It comes from the heart," said Eagle Cloud, 53. "We have a saying in our culture: You don't play the flute; the flute plays you."
He took up the Native American flute seven years ago. For three years, he has played in the lobby and garden of Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg Township on Sunday afternoons, and now plays in the sister hospice facility in Toledo.
"People love it," said Deb Braun, director of volunteers at the hospice. "It's very soothing. It's very comforting."
Eagle Cloud was given his name by his grandfather, a man of Wyandot heritage, he said. His legal name is Norm Powers and he works as a security guard. "I'm of mixed blood. I'm ashamed of the white man's blood. Unfortunately, I have to walk in both worlds," he said.
When he breathes into the flute, he's transported.
"I'm the real me. Playing the flute is a spiritual thing. You've got to be connected with yourself. You've got to go down deep and find out who you really are."
The Nammys have 130 entries, five in each of 26 categories. In the independent recording category, only five entries were submitted, said a Nammy official.
Douglas Blue Feather of Springboro, Ohio, south of Dayton, plans to attend tonight's ceremony, where he is nominated in four categories (record of the year, songwriter of the year, best new age recording, and flutist of the year). In 2003, he was named flutist of the year, and in 2002, he won the top prize in the independent category.
He says Eagle Cloud is "very accomplished" on the Native American flutes, which usually have five or six holes on the top but no thumb hole on the back.
For Eagle Cloud and Star, attending tonight's event in Florida was too expensive. He is, however, thrilled to be a contender.
"I'm just an average joe blow off the street, an average working man," he said. The flute provides a way to share the heritage he loves.
"I'm honoring my culture. I'm honoring my bloodline. I'm making people aware there's a lot more music than what you hear on the radio."
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