Born on the Jicarilla Apache reservation in New Mexico to a German-Irish mother and a Mescalero Apache father, jazz bassist John-Carlos Perea grew up in San Francisco, taking up his instrument originally in elementary school. During his college years, Perea studied jazz, world music, modern Western classical music composition, and American Indian music and philosophy at San Francisco State University. Shortly thereafter, Perea helped teach American Indian music for the San Francisco title nine education project and elementary schools, and performed around the world (including clinics at the San Francisco-Osaka Citizen Ambassador Exchange Program, the San Francisco Native Contemporary Arts Festival, the CSU SummerArts Festival, and the San Francisco Asian American Jazz Festival). Perea has been named Writer of the Year by the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers for his contributions to the Gathering of Ancestors compilation, leads his own group (the John-Carlos Perea ensemble), co-leads the Sweetwater Singers (a northern-style American Indian powwow drum) in addition to playing with Francis Wong, Dr. Hafez Modirzadeh, and John Worley. Perea teaches American Indian Music at San Francisco State University and in 2001 issued his solo debut, First Dance.
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