Grantee: Brent Michael Davids
Native Citizenship: Mohican
Location: St. Paul, Minn.
Award: 2013 NACF Artist Fellowship
Web Site: http://www.brentmichaeldavids.com/
As a composer, Brent Michael Davids creates, publishes, records, and performs his own original music for the concert stage, orchestra, chorus, opera, ballet, modern dance, theater and film.
Brent Michael Davids’ music creates complex dimensions of timbre and melody that crosses over the genres of classical music, folk, jazz and American Indian genres like Northern style pow wow and Native American flute. His innovative music brings American Indian perspectives into the concert music world, where previously indigenous influence has been markedly absent. From his early theoretical studies in university and throughout his professional career, Davids has challenged the largely Western-European world of professional composers as a peer and created opportunities for music theory and composition to expand to include new concepts from Indigenous music and culture.
His work has toured extensively throughout the country and he has composed for the Kronos Quartet, the Joffrey Ballet and the National Symphony Orchestra. Davids has been nominated for a Grammy and received awards from the NEA, Rockefeller Foundation, Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation and Jerome Foundation.
With the support of an NACF Artist Fellowship in Music, Brent was able to volunteer time at the Oneida Youth Camps teaching music and composing original songs and musical arrangements for the Oneida Youth Chorus. The fellowship also allowed him to travel to New York to perform at Galapagos Art Space with the Composer Choral Collective (C4) and to create the blogging platform www.purchaseofmanhattan.com, to discuss his next work, an opera about the history of Native people in Manhattan.
In his fellowship year, Davids composed works for the Minnesota Band Directors Association, allowing the state a creative way to include learning about Native Nations in K-12 curricula. The website for this project www.americanindianbandmusic.com includes photos, audio performances and ways to download sheet music and scores. He also created a score for the film, “Living With the Land” (2013), and a documentary exploring how a trapper, a worker, a wood artist, a wild foods gatherer and a sustainable home builder work with the land in unique ways. Festivals in Minnesota screened the film which also was presented in Oklahoma.
Support from the foundation allowed Davids to reach over 1,446 audience members and workshop participants through his projects. “I feel invigorated: the NACF award was a major boost to me at a time when I really needed it! More than the funding, the people who work within the foundation have been true advocates for my work, championing me as an artist,” said Davids. “It’s clearly evident that the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation takes pride in Native artists far beyond financial support: it’s Native arts advocacy with a heart!”
Future plans for Davids include creating new works celebrating Native history and culture and initiating new ways to help teach composition, music appreciation and musical skills to Native youth on his reservation.