Photo by John Running
Radmilla Cody photographed by John Running, courtesy Canyon Records

Navajo Singer Radmilla Cody: Grammys-Bound and Grateful

ICTMN Staff
2/7/13

Navajo recording artist Radmilla Cody, a former Miss Navajo Nation, is nominated for a Grammy Award in the Regional Roots Album category for Shi Kéyah — Songs For The People, a disc she made with her uncle Herman Cody and released on Canyon Records. Radmilla is the first Native American artist to be recognized in the catch-all rubric that was created two years ago when the Recording Academy decided to discontinue the Native American Album category. (The Regional Roots Album category has not been totally free of indigenous sounds, as Hawaiian music albums received nominations in both years.)  

For Cody, the chance to win a Grammy is undoubtedly a highlight of her career, but even if she doesn't come home with the hardware she will have made her presence known at the gala event. She will join several other nominees as a presenter at the Pre-Telecast Ceremony, which takes place on Sunday, February 10, from 1 to 3:30 PM Pacific (4 to 6:30 PM Eastern). That event wil be hosted by David Alan Grier (nominated for Best Musical Theater Album for The Gershwins' Porgy And Bess) and Cody's presenting colleagues include Janis Ian (Best Spoken Word Album for Society's Child: My Autobiography), Kaskade (Best Dance/Electronica Album for Fire & Ice), Britt Nicole (Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for Gold) and Manuel Valera (Best Latin Jazz Album, for Manuel Valera New Cuban Express' New Cuban Express).  The ceremony will be streamed live internationally at GRAMMY.com/live and CBS.com.

En route to California for the big weekend, Cody took a few moments to share her thoughts with ICTMN.

When you were recording Shi Kéyah — Songs For The People, did you have any inkling it might be something that received such acclaim and approval?

No, I had no idea. Starting out, my hope as always was that this album would be well accepted and received by the Dine’ Nation. So the fact that it has been acknowledged by the Recording Academy is even more of a blessing. 

Were you aware of the recent changes in the Grammy categories? What do you think when you heard about them?

Yes, I was aware, and it was disappointing to hear about the Native American category being removed along with so many others, because each category includes a broad range of musical expression. However, as always I like to look for the positive in every situation, and see this as a breakthrough. I believe it raises the profile of Native musicians and widens our audience. Now, we Native musicians are being recognized and are sharing equal status with other prominent genres.

You collaborated with your uncle on this album, as you've done in the past. Can you talk about what he means to you and the nature of that collaboration?

My Uncle Herman Cody is a compassionate and determined man with great knowledge of the Dine’ (Navajo) language, culture, and history. Dr. Herman Cody is the composer of a majority of the songs that I sing and we share the common interest in preserving the Dine’ language through our music. We have worked together for the past 13 years.  

Speaking of family, you lost your grandmother recently, and when you heard of the nomination you mentioned her on your Facebook page — what sort of influence did she have on you as an artist and on your career?

My grandmother Dorothy was and always will be the foundation of who I am as a Dine’ (Navajo)/ Nahilii (Black) women. Her influence in my life has played a significant role in my perspective in life as well as my accomplishments. I love her, miss her dearly, and will continue to honor her and carry on her legacy. 

What will you be wearing for the big event?

I will be wearing my grandmother’s handmade moccasins along with a lovely traditional Dine’ dress created by my Aunt Thelma Shonnie of Shima E’e’ Creations, and beautiful turquoise jewelry from Powwow Trading Post of Flagstaff, Arizona. 

What sort of philanthropic work are you doing these days?

I continue to give back in as many ways as I can. As a survivorof and advocate against domestic abuse and violence I continue to support community efforts through my teen dating violence campaign, “Strong Spirit...Life is Beautiful not Abusive.” I’ve also lent my voice to issues concerning our environment, sacred sites, and political issues such as the Violence Against Women Act.

 

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Comments

Pediowoman's picture
Pediowoman
Submitted by Pediowoman on
What an absolutely beautiful young woman. I have read negative comments about her due to mistakes in the past. But who hasn’t made mistakes? She has learned from them and is a great blessing to the Navajo.

Violet Edgewater's picture
Violet Edgewater
Submitted by Violet Edgewater on
This is so exciting to know that FINALLY after all these years..there is someone that Native American going to the Grammy's I sure will be watching & cheering u on.

Violet Edgewater's picture
Violet Edgewater
Submitted by Violet Edgewater on
This is so exciting to know that FINALLY after all these years..there is someone that Native American going to the Grammy's I sure will be watching & cheering u on.

donavan tsosie's picture
donavan tsosie
Submitted by donavan tsosie on
Good job Radmilla for representing for the Navajo Nation. Aheehe

Carlos Begay (Navajo Artist)'s picture
Carlos Begay (N...
Submitted by Carlos Begay (N... on
Congrats! We all fall but we all must get up and keep going regardless, the world does not wait for anybody , we must move along with it ........

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
So proud of, and for Radmilla Cody!! Beautifully representing, her GREAT Navajo Nation. Sadly, the 55th "Regional Roots Music" GRAMMY was awarded to a group from New Orleans in the (Zydeco Genre).. My focus now, lies within gaining ground on recovering our old Native American GRAMMY category with AMPLE change...Opening it up to ALL genre's NOT just Traditional. Much like the Latino's have their own GRAMMY event and GRAMMY category that allows Latino Artist to sing in English & Spanish. Nor are there any cultural stipulation applied in order for them to qualify... Native Indigenous Peoples & Native Hawaiian's are the ONLY groups where the GRAMMY awards mandate us to produce CD's with 51% or more Traditional Vocal, Language, and Traditional & Musical Cultural Elements or it does NOT qualify for a GRAMMY nomination! That must change.. We Native Indigenous Peoples & Native Hawaiians..will never be relevant in today's industry, or beyond, being forced to conform to the confounds of what has been laid out for us, within GRAMMY AWARDS, this treatment is unethical. Natives Indigenous Peoples & Native Hawaiian's music artist are also brilliant mainstream music making artist!...However our GRAMMY qualifying music, is riddled with artistic regulations, and stipulations, that disables us to showcase our mainstream marketability & talents... It is deplorable....We are the ONLY race within the GRAMMY AWARDS, of which this behavior, and or views are applied and or demanded. We DESERVE Artistic Equality!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
So proud of, and for Radmilla Cody!! Beautifully representing, her GREAT Navajo Nation. Sadly, the 55th "Regional Roots Music" GRAMMY was awarded to a group from New Orleans in the (Zydeco Genre).. My focus now, lies within gaining ground on recovering our old Native American GRAMMY category with AMPLE change...Opening it up to ALL genre's NOT just Traditional. Much like the Latino's have their own GRAMMY event and GRAMMY category that allows Latino Artist to sing in English & Spanish. Nor are there any cultural stipulation applied in order for them to qualify... Native Indigenous Peoples & Native Hawaiian's are the ONLY groups where the GRAMMY awards mandate us to produce CD's with 51% or more Traditional Vocal, Language, and Traditional & Musical Cultural Elements or it does NOT qualify for a GRAMMY nomination! That must change.. We Native Indigenous Peoples & Native Hawaiians..will never be relevant in today's industry, or beyond, being forced to conform to the confounds of what has been laid out for us, within GRAMMY AWARDS, this treatment is unethical. Natives Indigenous Peoples & Native Hawaiian's music artist are also brilliant mainstream music making artist!...However our GRAMMY qualifying music, is riddled with artistic regulations, and stipulations, that disables us to showcase our mainstream marketability & talents... It is deplorable....We are the ONLY race within the GRAMMY AWARDS, of which this behavior, and or views are applied and or demanded. We DESERVE Artistic Equality!
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