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Canyon Records

Canyon Records captures the sounds of instruments such as Apache fiddles.Canyon Records is the world’s largest American Indian recording company. For over sixty years, Canyon has recorded American Indian musicians including Cree, Lakota, and Blackfoot tribes. The southwestern tribes are well represented, with sounds from Navajo, Apache, Yaqui, O’odham, and others. In fact, Canyon Records was the first studio to record waila music. Over 400 titles capture a range of music that spans dance melodies, medicine chants, and non-traditional instrumentals. Inspired by the painted landscape of the canyonlands, sounds recorded on the Canyon Records label inspire and transport the listener.

Canyon Records chief engineer, Jack Miller, is hailed as one of the most talented sound artists of his generation. Miller has been recording in some capacity since he was seven years old, and was working at Ramsey’s recording studio when Duane Eddy’s albums shook America. Evocative and compelling melodies emerge under Miller’s touch.

Canyon artists have received countless Grammy nominations for New Age excellence and are recognized in categories for powwow music and traditional music as well as general instrumental recordings. World renowned flutist R. Carlos Nakai is a premiere performer of the Native American flute and a prominent Canyon Records artist. In his 35 Canyon Records albums he has explored genres ranging from new age, world-beat jazz, and classical on a solo platform or with collaborators such as famed instrument maker William Eaton, garnering much critical acclaim.

 

History

Guitar maker and Canyon Records recording artist William Eaton crafts one of a kind stringed instruments such as his “o’ele‘n strings,” a variation of a plucked lute.R. Carlos Nakai speaks about his inspiration and career as the world’s premiere performer of the Native American flute.

Ray and Mary Boley founded Canyon Records in 1951 when they met Ed Lee Natay, the son of a Navajo leader and medicine man. Already in the recording business in Phoenix, the husband and wife team had been asked to record Natay for a little theater production. After hearing his music, they felt the singer deserved a wider audience. They formed the Canyon Records label and released its first album, Ed Lee Natay singing a variety of traditional songs from various southwestern tribes titled Navajo Singer.

Canyon Records changed hands in 1992, and the label focused on fusing traditional styles with contemporary genres. The emerging sounds of American Indian chants and instruments combined with elements of jazz, classical, folk, or world beats contribute to a distinctive repertoire of hauntingly beautiful albums that free the mind and unlock the spirit.

Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery

Located in South Phoenix, the Roberto Venn School of Luthiery is one of the nation’s top institutes for guitar making and repair. Five month courses teach students how to craft elegant, imaginative instruments with superior sound quality. Students get to know the guitar and other stringed instruments inside and out. Balancing tradition and innovation, the school provides basic knowledge of sound instrument craftsmanship and encourages creativity and innovation. The school attracts students from six continents and has graduated over 1,200 crafters since its founding in 1975.

How is guitarmaking taught? Original curriculum was adapted from a traditional apprenticeship study. Master/apprentice teaching methods have been used for centuries in crafters guilds. The school was founded by John Roberts in 1969 with the original name of the Juan Roberto Guitar Works. A pilot who spent his early years exploring the jungles of Nicaragua, John collected much of the rosewood and mahogany used in his guitars with the help of the Miskito Indians. Robert Venn brought his skills in custom electric guitar craftsmanship to the school in 1973.

William Eaton, the school’s current director, apprenticed with John Roberts in 1971. In 1974 he created a business plan for the school for his master’s project at the Stanford School of Business. Based on this plan, Eaton, John Roberts, Roberto Venn, and Bruce Scotten founded the current school in 1975, incorporating a specialty in custom-crafting one-of-a-kind multistringed instruments in 1976. Eaton and R. Carlos Nakai collaborate often on Canyon Records recordings.