Belo Cozad

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A legendary Kiowa flute player from the older generation, this man has some direct family descendents such as Tom Machahty-Ware, who has recorded several of his own albums of native American flute music.…
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A legendary Kiowa flute player from the older generation, this man has some direct family descendents such as Tom Machahty-Ware, who has recorded several of his own albums of native American flute music. Beyond bloodlines, Cozad was an enormous influence on native American music in general via his 1941 recordings for the Library of Congress. Re-released in 1997 by Rounder, this collection was something of a state of the union declaration for American folk music circa the early '40s. The collection concludes with Cozad's performance entitled "Kiowa Story of the Flute," in which the artist, then in his seventies, details how the wooden flute song that he plays was obtained from an ancestor who learned it from a spirit. After these field recordings were first issued, they influenced several generations of modern artists ranging from classical composer Aaron Copland to the San Francisco psychedelic rock group the Jefferson Airplane. It was also a crucial recording in helping to spark the 1960s folk music revival. Native American music as represented by Cozad, however, did not benefit that greatly from this type of interest, which focused more on American old-time music and particularly blues. But the art of native American flute playing would receive a bigger boost in the '80s, as the genre known as new age music began opening up entirely new markets. The peaceful, slow, and haunting sounds of native American flute players fit quite snugly into this concept, although being lumped together with the piano playing of George Winston and displays of incense and crystals may not have been what Belo Cozad had in mind.

His original story and song has also been turned into a small printed publication by the No Press company. It is one of several volumes the press published in simple black cardstock covers which open up to reveal their contents, folded over into quarters. The Cozad volume is entitled The Kiowa Story of the Flute by Belo Cozad (1864-1950) and translated by Patrick F. Durgin. Further documentation of Cozad is available from the University of Tulsa, which houses a special collection of recordings of Ponca and other native American music, which includes several other performances originally taped by the Library of Congress, such as the "Kiowa Love Song."