Native Americana – Indigenous Artists in Roots and Country Music

  • November 16, 2023
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November is National Native American Heritage Month and all month long we pay tribute to the rich ancestry and cultural heritage of the Indigenous people of this land.

Country music is often seen simply as predominantly white, male and southern. However, in recent years, mostly under the umbrella of “Americana,” country music has become much more diverse. In fact, the 2024 Grammy nominees for best Americana album include two black women: one queer (Allison Russell) and one with native roots (Rhiannon Giddens.)

Finding Native artists in Americana music can be a bit more challenging, but once you start taking a deep dive, you’ll find a number of Indigenous artists today creating exciting and innovative sounds in Americana music. These Native and Indigenous artists have a unique worldview and bring a rich history to traditional music.

Here are a few Americana artists with Native and Indigenous roots to check out:

  • Blaine Bailey (Keetoowah) is a 21 year old songwriter and guitarist from Oklahoma. With a song recently featured on the TV program “Reservation Dogs” Blaine is an up and coming performer to watch.
  • Kyle McKearney is a Métis Canadian songwriter who has been winning tons of awards in Canada for his strong songwriting.
  • William Prince is a Saulteaux (aka Plains Ojibwe) folk and country artist from Canada. With four albums released to critical acclaim, Prince made his Grand Ole Opry debut earlier this year.
  • Samantha Crain (Choctaw) is a singer/songwriter from Oklahoma. Not strictly Americana, but a diverse and multi-faceted artist.
  • Vincent Neil Emerson (Choctaw-Apache) hails from Texas, and leaned into his roots with the song “The Ballad of the Choctaw-Apache.” Highly regarded in alternative country and Americana, Emerson’s excellent new album was just released earlier this month.
  • Annie Humphrey (Anishinaabe) grew up on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in Northern Minnesota. Her music is artistic, poetic and powerful.
  • Buffalo Weavers is a collaboration between Dakota elder Strong Buffalo and St. Paul based singer/songwriter Ben Weaver.
  • Rhiannon Giddens is a descendant of African Americans and Native American tribes including the Lumbee, Occaneechi, and Seminole. Her 2023 album "You're the One" was just nominated for a Grammy. 

These Native and Indigenous artists bring diverse perspectives and stories to country and Americana music, enriching the genres with their backgrounds while creating music that reflects their heritage and a space for their voices to be heard.

Troy is the host of “Across the Tracks” Wednesday mornings 5 – 7am. The program features new Americana and roots music, and accepts the challenge of presenting a diverse selection of artists that represent the rich tapestry of humanity.