Radmilla Cody

Seed of Life

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Diné (Navajo) singer Radmilla Cody brings a fresh, contemporary sound to the songs of her ancestors. Her voice has the warm tone and supple phrasing of a pop singer, but the arrangements here are simple and true to tradition. Singing a cappella or accompanied by only drum and rattle, she sings songs of the seasons, marriage, corn grinding, and even sibling rivalry, all in the Diné tongue. The simple, earthy poetry of these songs is translated by Herman Cody in the liner notes. Most of the songs are traditional, but Cody includes a tribute to a beloved relative in the poignant "Grandmother," reciting her own poetry over a gently rocking lullaby. She bookends the release with Diné adaptations of two patriotic songs, "God Bless America" and "America the Beautiful," dedicating them to the Navajo Codetalkers, who became heroes during World War II. The unaffected simplicity of her delivery of these often overblown warhorses is particularly touching after the events of September 11, 2001. Seed of Life is a graceful, honest release. The only drawback is that, at just over 33 minutes, it's too short. Still, in Cody's hand these lovely old songs stand a good chance of surviving into the 21st century.

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