Artist of the Month: Jim Boyd


I first became acquainted with the music of  Jim Boyd when I saw the 1998 film, Smoke Signals. He contributed three songs to the soundtrack, and I was  immediately drawn to his voice, which to me seemed to have not just intensity, but an emotional fragility as well.  This is particularly true with "A Million Miles Away," which remains one of my favorite songs:

When I see you read by the candlelight
I wonder if you'll hurt your eyes
Some people like happy endings
But I've always liked a surprise
And I've got a map here in my pocket
That shows where Lucifer fell
Ya I'll fall from Heaven
If you guide me through Hell

From that point on, I purchased every available album produced by Boyd. This was not easy, because Native artists are not necessarily carried by major suppliers or played on mainstream media outlets, even though someone like Boyd had the potential to reach a much larger audience, as his music is American music, plain and simple.  Although he often sings about Native issues, his music spans rock, singer-songwriter and country.

Jim Boyd was a member of Arrow Lakes Band of  the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington. He even had been elected Chairman of the Colville Tribes before his untimely death in 2016.  

Jim Boyd was not only a solo artist, but had also performed with several bands, such as Greywolf and Winterhawk. Over the course of his career, he had won seven "Nammies" (Native American Music Awards) and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. He also appeared in several films.

This month, we are highlighting the work of Jim Boyd. Listen to the Spotify playlist I created, showcasing some of my favorite songs. 

My top 5:  

5) "Reservation Blues"
4) "My Heart Drops But I'm Proud"
3) "Ichelium"
2) "Filtered Ways"
1) "A Million Miles Away" (I particularly like the acoustic version that appears on the Smoke Signals soundtrack. The one in the Spotify playlist is a more electrified version from his album, First Come, Last Served)

It is Native American Heritage Month. In the ARC, we have a selection of books available that inform and amplify Native voices. We will also be producing a special episode of Music Matters that will highlight Native American Music Awards Winners.

And yes, you'll hear Jim Boyd there, too.


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