As you may or may not have heard, my song "Hear My Cry" feat. Cody Blackbird won the 2012 Native American Music Award for Song/Single of the Year this last Friday May 10th. The awards show was held in Niagara Falls, NY but I was not able to attend. I stayed to perform on Saturday May 11th with high school students from Little Black Pearl that I have been mentoring and producing music for all semester. We all put together an incredible production called Live Art which aims to change the dialogue around American youth by shining the spotlight on positive young artists throughout Chicago. My heart was with Live Art and I simply couldn't bail on the students to attend an awards ceremony. I never count on winning at any of these awards ceremonies anyway out of a belief that I am nominated because of shear luck. As the awards ceremony rolled near, a few things happened that I believe to be prophetic and made this day one I will never forget.
First off, Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN) released an artist profile on me titled "Frank Waln, Hip Hop Artist and Gates Scholar, Goes for Five NAMA Awards." ICTMN is a huge publication so to be recognized and have so many people share and like the article was mind-blowing. After all, I'm just some rez kid from Rosebud who makes Hip Hop music on my laptop.
The article for the profile was taken from a recent radio interview I did on the Native Trail Blazers show and it's one of the best artist profiles that have been done about me.
Later that day, one of my heroes John Trudell shared "Hear My Cry" on his FaceBook timeline with the quote "there are wanna be's and theres the real deal...this is the real...."
This made me freak out. Being the master poet and no bullshit activist he is, John Trudell recognizing one of my songs and calling it the "real deal" didn't even seem real to me. I commented, told him thank you and that he is a huge inspiration to me. To which he commented "peace frank." Cool as fuck! I was smiling from ear to ear at this point.
Soon after, my girlfriend and I traveled to our friends Dallas and Sonja's house to have diner. I thought it would ease the Nammy nerves I was experiencing as I knew the award show had already begun. After we arrived, Dallas pulled up the live web stream of the Nammys on his laptop. They were announcing all the awards that weren't going to be presented on stage. All 5 of my categories were in this bunch. I pretended to keep my cool as I heard the announcer tell me Nake Nula Waun had lost Best Group and Best Hip Hop Album. He proceeded to tell that I our documentary had lost Best Long Form Music Video and that Cody Blackbird and I lost Best Debut Group/Duo. Then the announcer started to read off the nominees for Song/Single of the Year, my last category. Just as they were about to announce the winner, the web stream lost signal and Dallas' laptop quite playing. Seconds later, I seen my mom (she was listening at home back in SD) was calling me. This could only mean one thing. She excitedly told me I had won Song/Single of the Year and my third Nammy in three years. Soon after, the texts came flooding in and Cody called me to give me the news. We congratulated each other.
As I sat there on Dallas and Sonja's couch waiting for the reality to set in, I couldn't help but think of all the people that helped me and Dre make it to Nammys for the first time three years ago. I recalled the elation and sense of accomplishment I felt when Nake Nula Waun was first nominated in 2010. That year was a rough one for me. I had just decided to leave Creighton University in Omaha, NE, stop chasing pre-med dreams and become a full time Hip Hop artist. Nothing was promised and success was a long shot. I was also very depressed and unsure of my future. Music was the only thing keeping me grounded so be nominated for a few Nammys out of the blue was a dream for me.
Winning my third Nammy brought me full circle to my first win three years ago and all the people who have helped along the way. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kernit Grimshaw, Butch & Billie Artichoker, Mark & Kim Tilsen and Ellen Bello for helping me realize that my music was good enough to be heard by the world and that I was actually a worthwhile artist. I thank Dre for always standing beside me and my artistic vision. I thank Kodi DeNoyer for being my artistic female counterpart. I thank Cody Blackbird for making "Hear My Cry" with me. I thank my mother for always believing in me. The list can go on and on
Finally I thank all the fans and supporters who voted for me. You must be a die hard fan if you made it this far in my blog post. Either that or you are nosey which is ok too. I creep as well.
Maybe it was the ICTMN nod. Maybe it was the blessing of John Trudell. Friday May 10th was one hell of a day for me.
On that note, I leave you all with the 2012 Native American Music Award Winner for Song/Single of the Year