A new album from one of my favorite musicians, Nahko Bear (with his band, Medicine for the People), is always a cause of celebration. If you've not encountered his music before: Nahko Bear is a singer/songwriter born of mixed Apache/Mohawk, Puerto Rican & Filipino heritage. He was raised in Oregon, now lives in Hawaii, and is active in the Earth Guardians movement of young musicians, artists and activists. (To learn more about him, see this post from 2015.)
Above: "Make a Change," with backup vocals by Zella Day, from the new album, Hoka. "We believe our people and planet are in serious need of change," Nahko says. "This is our cry for help. This is our call to action. Empowered youth. Real Changes." (The upside down U.S. flag "is an official signal of distress. It is not meant to be any type of disrespect when so displayed for the right reasons.")
Below: "We Are on Time," a gorgeous love song from Koka, performed solo for a Skype Live Studio session in Portland, Oregon last month.
Above: "San Quentin," a song Nahko wrote about his "personal journey to forgiveness" when he made a trip to San Quentin State Prison to meet the man who murdered his father. This is not the first time he's turned personal trauma into "medicine" and art, which is one of the reasons I love his work so much. (As I wrote in a post about another writer back in May: "Those who thoroughly understand despair have my attention when they speak of hope.")
Below: "Love Letters to God," peformed for Global Sounds Radio in Portland, Oregon in January.
And a lovely song to end with: "Tus Pies," performed in the Paste Magazine studio in New York in June. This one gets me in the gut every time I hear it....
"I think I’m a gatherer," Nahko said (in an interview back in 2013). "I’ve been trying to find my family for a long time. And I’m trying to help other people feel like they have family through this music. For all the abandoned, vagabond, vagrant, home free kids out there."