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Native Music Awards elude Battiest brothers . . . this time

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — The 13th annual Native American Music Awards took place Friday, Oct. 7 at the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel, celebrating the best in music from members of the First Nations.


Carrying three 2011 nominations, with a legion of Florida fans following their every move on Twitter and Facebook, performing artists Spencer and Doc Battiest traveled north hoping to be the first Seminoles since James E. Billie (1999) to win at least one of the Native music industry’s highest awards.


Unfortunately, a Mohawk named Bear Fox won the Best Debut Artist, Northern Cheyennes Joseph Firecrow, Thomasina Levy and others shared the Song Single of the Year and Nake Nula Waun, from Rosebud Sioux, took home the Best Hip Hop Song NAMMY. The Storm, a hip hop tribute to the Seminole Tribe, struck out.


But the Battiest Brothers are unfazed.


“The experience was just great even though we didn’t win,” said an upbeat (no pun intended) Doc (Zach) Battiest. “I couldn’t believe how people recognized us. We had no idea anyone would know us. It really opened our eyes to the many genres of music where Native artists excel – classical guitar, there was even an opera singer. And they were great.”


“It was a fabulous experience. One of the Councilmen for Seneca told me he had changed his schedule around, during budget week, to attend just so he could meet Doc and me,” said Spencer, who said the highlight of their trip was taking the main stage to present 13-year-old Montaukett sensation Dylan Janet Collins, who won the Best Pop Recording NAMMY. “She blew everybody away!”


Because it finished production after the NAMMY deadline, the video version of The Storm was not eligible for this year’s awards. But it will be up for consideration next year. “We’ve got high hopes. We had an overwhelming response to that video out there at the NAMMYs. It really made us feel good to know our names are already out there with the best in the country!” Spencer said.


Doc is more to the point: “I know we’re gonna win. I feel it so strong in my heart. When you work so hard at something, when it’s your own brain child, you just can’t believe no other way!”


The Brothers will attend a prestigious screening of the video – even perform the song live – at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, Nov. 11-12 at the 970-seat Palace Theatre.


The Native American Music Awards was created as a method to provide Native music and its artists proper respect on a national level and prove that there is a viable and professional mainstream industry. It was also created to give Native youth on reservations the needed inspiration and opportunities to pursue a professional career and garner greater exposure.

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