Updated: Mar 16
Indigenous Performance Productions has the immense pleasure of welcoming The Cody Blackbird Band as our newest client! The “AlterNative Rock Fusion” band are 5x winners of the Native American Music Awards, as well as numerous other accolades. Members include Cody Backbird (East Band Cherokee and Dakota); Will Benjamin on guitar, bass, and mandolin; Caleb Blackbird, Cody’s younger brother, who plays percussion, flute, and sings; and Lewis Schwenk on guitar, bass, and mandolin.
Cody Blackbird began his musical journey at the age of 8. His father, Thomas Blackbird, is an accomplished American Indian Cowboy poet. Often, when Cody accompanied his father on his travels, he would fall asleep to traditional flute and ceremonial music, laying the foundation for his love of the flute and his path into the music industry. His first album, “Raven Speaks,” was released in 2009 and gained him his first nomination by the Native American Music Awards as “Best Debut Artist.” He would go on to win his next nomination for his album “The Journey,” and become the youngest ever to receive the “Flutist of the Year” award.
Over the next three years, Cody would perform over 200 national and international shows, eventually leading to the ground-breaking collaboration with Rosebud Sioux rapper Frank Waln that produced the hit song “Hear My Cry.” The song is a perfect mix of flute and hip hop that speaks to the enduring struggle of navigating two worlds with the history of genocide and the responsibility of cultural revolution on one’s back. In this song, we are brought into the continued resistance of erasure and oppression through the combined talent of Blackbird and Waln, and their dedication to their traditions and cultures. Cody’s first solo flute album, mixed and produced by Waln, is titled “Wihocan” (life customs) and is dedicated to cultural survival and preservation through language and music.
In 2014, Cody released his next album Euphoria with Oglala Lakota producer Terrance Jaye. The album holds the listener in a liminal space somewhere between the rich and grounding sound of traditional flute music and vocals, combined with an otherworldly backdrop of synth key and drums. The end result is an ethereal feeling aptly captured in the albums cover art depicting a raven silhouette constellation imposed over deep space imagery. Euphoria placed number 17 on the iTunes and Billboard New Age charts, was featured in their Top 40, and was nominated at the 2016 NAMMY Awards.
With a long list of awards and accomplishments, as well as national and international recognition, Cody formed The Cody Blackbird Band in 2012. His talent shines through the entrancing sound the band creates by fusing traditional flute music, classic rock, and blues into what the band terms “alterNative fusion.” The sounds produced by The Cody Blackbird Band echo the poetic integration of rock n roll sounds with an activist message heard only in other seminal icons such as John Trudell, Indigenous, and Blackfire; while bringing forth a new and innovative blend of instruments and influences, utterly unique in its successful execution.
The Cody Blackbird Band carries a message that reflects the values and commitments Cody holds outside of the music world. This includes Cody’s work with youth and college students, bringing encouragement and good medicine to our future generations. He is the Founder of the Cody Blackbird Scholarship Fund, a once a year 2000-dollar scholarship available to any indigenous youth who wishes to achieve the goal of higher education. As well, he is the founder of the Music Is Life Foundation, an organization aimed at putting musical instruments and materials into rural area schools that couldn’t otherwise afford them.
We are honored to be joining The Cody Blackbird Band in their commitment to the betterment of Indigenous communities through the distinctive music genre they’ve created and the culturally rooted relationships their music facilitates. Their upcoming album "Time" is produced by Kenny Lee Lewis of The Steve Miller Band. We look forward to coordinating future tours and events in accordance with health and safety recommendations. In the meantime, we encourage our followers to visit The Cody Blackbird Band site (codyblackbirdband.com) and take advantage of the video samples and available music for purchase!