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Native American Music: Reconnecting with the Primal Essence

(Posted April 11, 2013)

Native American musician Robert Mirabal.

Last Friday night, Juniata Presents brought the string quartet, ETHEL, to the stage in collaboration with the Juniata Concert Choir, and fellow musician Robert Mirabal. Mirabal's music is unique with its roots in the Native American Pueblo culture. During the concert he played a myriad of different flutes and other woodwinds. His vocal expressions ranged from low, droning chants and tribal shouts to singing in his native tongue. Mirabal shares his musical inspirations and the effect his heritage has had on his music. To learn more about Robert and his music, visit mirabal.com or Red Willow Voices blog spot.

Q: How long have you been working with ETHEL?

A: We're going on six years now. We met on a show for the Brooklyn Academy of Music called "Truck Stop." I was a guest along with other musicians from Hawaii, Texas and Kentucky playing banjo and guitar. It was a collaboration based on the strangest group of people, but musically, we worked.

Q: What tribe are you a part of and how has your heritage affected your music?

A: My tribe is called the Taos Pueblo. Everything I play, all the music I make is from those traditions on some level. Whether it's contemporary, rock, or what we're doing today in collaboration with the choir and ETHEL, it's all based on Pueblo culture.

Q: What or who has inspired you the most in your music?

A: I think I get inspired by the people I'm working with at the time. What gives me inspiration is the individual talent and the willingness to collaborate. Also, I listened to a lot of jazz when I was younger. Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and rock 'n' roll from the '60s and '70s also influenced me.

Q: What is your goal through your music?

A: My goal is to inspire collaboration among people. Everything I do is based on creating complete inspiration. I grew up in the primal essence, so it's easy for me to feel that, but for you guys who have never experienced it, it's a new feeling. And when you're exposed to it, we're creating a whole new style of sound when it hits. Another goal of mine is to create ceremony.

-Hannah Jeffery '16, Juniata Online Journalist

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.