This is the first in a series of blog posts about indigenous American music.
Archie James Cavanaugh can certainly claim to have had a major label release on A&M in 1980 with an album entitled Black and White Raven. The fine print is that the label released the record only in Alaska. Cavanaugh is a member of the South Alaskan Tlingit tribe and his superb performances have survived the tests of time, one of which always seems to require emerging from the shroud of obscurity known as “non-promotion.”
What makes Black and White Raven stand out is the band. They aren’t just accomplished session musicians, they’re a seasoned unit that plays well together and knows each other’s strengths. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and it makes a joyful track like “Make Me Believe” more than a love song. This may be by design; a few songs later it resonates with a higher power on “Light Unto the World,” as catchy a piece of gospel soul as you’ve ever heard.
This album/CD is dedicated to Jesus Christ, ax Dikée Aankáawoo (Tlingit for my Heavenly Father). -Archie James Cavanaugh