American Indian performers and the struggles of their people have influenced most, if not all, forms of contemporary music. Most people just don’t realize it.
Elvis Presley, for instance, had maternal relatives who were Cherokee Indian. So did legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Country singer Hank Williams had Muskogee Creek and Cherokee ancestry.
Craig Harris, a musician and author of the newly published “Heartbeat, Warble and the Electric Powwow: American Indian Music,” enlightened a crowd of a few dozen people Thursday afternoon at the Palm Beach Gardens Branch of the Palm Beach County Library.
Harris drummed as people entered. His talk covered the Trail of Tears and the Wounded Knee massacre, plus the current struggles of Indian Americans protesting the construction of oil pipelines through burial sites. After his talk and a montage of native musicians’ performances, he handed out instruments to the audience and led them in recreating the beats.
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