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.
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.