May 26, 2011

Hard Rock promotes Native musicians

Micki Free, the Hard Rock Café, and the Future of Native American Music

By J. PoetBuffy Sainte-Marie, Robbie Robertson, R. Carlos Nakai, Grammy-winner Rita Coolidge, spoken-word artist John Trudell, and jazzman Jim Pepper have all broken through, but despite the initiation of a Native American Grammy category in 2000, most Native American artists—rockers, rappers, reggae singers—receive little attention from the music industry.

That situation will change in the next few years if Micki Free and the Seminole Tribe of Florida have anything to say about it. Free won a Grammy for “Don’t Get Stopped in Beverly Hills,” a song he co-wrote for the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack in 1985. He recently signed on as the Director of Promotions and Special Events for the Seminole tribe of Florida, owners of Hard Rock International, the company that runs the Hard Rock Café chain. With the power of the Seminole tribe behind him, Free is initiating several measures that will give Native American musicians a shot at national exposure.

“The Seminoles acquired the Hard Rock brand [except for the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas] in 2005,” Free explained from his home in Hollywood, Florida. “I’ve been working with them for six years. When the tribe took over, the Hard Rock brand was dying. They worked with Hard Rock CEO James Allen and rescued it. Today, Hard Rock Cafés are hotter than ever. Hard Rock Calling, put on by the Tribe and Live Nation, has been the biggest festival in London for the last five years with artists including Aerosmith, Clapton, McCartney, and other superstars. The tribe has also initiated new programs that will help bring more Indian musicians into the public eye.”

Those programs, put together with Free’s help, include packaging Native American artists together for the Native Music Rocks tours that play Hard Rock venues around the world, the Star Search talent contest, the Star Search Talent Camps, and the Native Music Rocks record label, distributed internationally by Fontana/Uni music.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see 13th Annual Big Cypress Celebration and Native Music Rocks! Tour.

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