By Todd Michaelis, ‘90
Joseph FireCrow, ’81, Winsted, Conn., caught national attention when he was nominated for the 2001 Grammy Awards in the Best Native American Music Album category, new to the Grammys this year.
FireCrow’s musical journey began when he was young. “I grew up hearing the drums, the flute, and singing; it made me happy. The music connected me to my people,” FireCrow says. He would imitate the drummers on his mother’s galvanized washtub, but it was the flute that would ultimately be the influential instrument in his life.
At BYU FireCrow took a class from John C. Rainer Jr., ’66, then an assistant professor of Indian education. “Half our grade was learning four songs, and the other half was making a flute that could play,” FireCrow says. He found he enjoyed the instrument and began playing it just about anywhere on campus, including the stairwells of Deseret Towers.
After three years of college, he returned to his reservation, where he became a respected fluteman. “My people see the flute as being very social in nature–it is to be shared with everyone,” FireCrow says. He has contributed to several albums including his latest CD, Cheyenne Nation, which received the Grammy nomination.