Delphine Tsinajinnie

Mother's Word

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Diné (Navajo) singer Tsinajinnie is a Jill of all trades: singer, actor, author, and teacher. On this debut recording, she presents adaptations of 18 traditional songs, all sung in the Diné tongue. Tsinajinnnie has a strong, clear, expressive voice with a slightly nasal edge. Several tracks are a cappella, several have drum, rattle, or bell accompaniment. She overdubs her own voice in unison on some tracks to vary the texture. Her subtle dynamics and expressive phrasing are decidedly contemporary, yet she never betrays the traditional essence of the music. Her bluesy delivery on some tracks will call to mind the work of First Nations trio Ulali. One of her strongest influences is Ed Lee Natay, whose groundbreaking Natay, Navajo Singer was Canyon's first release 49 years ago. Natay, who died in 1967, appears through the miracle of tape on "Basket Dance Song." You first hear his stately version, then Tsinajinnie's warm update of the song. Mother's Word is a promising debut from a singer with strong roots in tradition yet an original voice.

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