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Spencer Battiest earns two NAMA nominations

Spencer_Vote2016_1024x512TwitterHOLLYWOOD — Spencer Battiest’s best birthday ever could come Sept. 17. The pop singer and songwriter has been nominated for two Native American Music Awards and will perform that evening at the 16th annual NAMA show at the Seneca Allegany Casino in New York.

“The best gift is to be able to perform on my birthday,” he said, “but wouldn’t it be cool if I win an award?”
Battiest received a phone call Aug. 16 with the news that he was nominated for the Best Male Vocalist and Best Pop Recording for his album “Stupid in Love.” He said he is honored to be recognized by his peers.

Founded in 1998, NAMA is a music industry organization dedicated to Native American music. Its mission is to promote cultural preservation and renewal through new music initiatives. The annual awards ceremony is modeled after other national music awards shows.

Members of the non-profit association’s nominating committee select nominees in 25 categories, but winners are chosen by votes cast by NAMA members and the general public, who can listen to nominees’ tracks on the NAMA website at www.nativeamericanmusicawards.com.

“That they have a category for Native Americans trying to make it in pop is really cool,” Battiest said. “That’s exactly what I am, a pop artist.”

The release of his four-track EP in 2015 has kept Battiest busy and on the road. Last September and October he toured 25 cities to support the album and he’s been traveling, writing and working on a new project all summer.

“You just keep going and pushing forward,” Battiest said. “When you get a phone call like this that people appreciate what you are doing, it gives you more fuel to keep trying. You don’t do it for the awards or recognition, but for the love of the art.”

Battiest has been performing since he was a kid when he sang gospel music and hymns in Mikasuki, Creek and Choctaw. He loves the standards sung by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand but his favorite artist is Stevie Wonder.

In 2014, he became the first Native American artist to sign with Hard Rock Records. The following year he performed at Hard Rock Rising in Miami Beach and Barcelona, Spain. But music isn’t Battiest’s only gig; in March he acted in an off-Broadway show that is seeking backers and a producer. “Distant Thunder” had a two-night run and played for audiences that included New York City producers.

“It was like a master class for me,” Battiest said. “It was a great learning experience to work with all these established actors.”

Battiest is proud to be part of NAMA and believes in the work it does for artists by giving them a national platform to be recognized and heard. The awards show gives the world a chance to hear independent and established artists and gives them a moment in the spotlight, he said.

“When you get these opportunities that show people recognize what you are doing is great validation,” Battiest said. “Especially when it comes from my peers and community of Native artists who are out there every day trying to do the same thing I am.”

Voting for nominees is open until noon Sept. 17, the day of the show. Visit www.nativeamericanmusicawards.com to cast a vote.

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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