Grammy Winner Robert Mirabal Comes To Tech

SOCORRO, N.M. November 14, 2013 – Two-time Grammy winner Robert Mirabal, together with 10 singers/dancers/musicians from the Jemez Pueblo, will perform ceremonial pieces rarely, if ever, seen outside the Pueblo, in a Performing Arts Series event at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center.

The presentation honors Native American Heritage Month.


Robert Mirabal will perform on November 22 at Macey Center.


Mirabal is a celebrated Native American flutist and composer from Taos Pueblo, a high mountain community in Northern New Mexico. Maintaining a traditional life, keeping the centuries-old customs of the Taos Pueblo people, Mirabal has been described as a Native American “Renaissance man” – musician, composer, painter, master craftsman, poet, actor, screenwriter, horseman and farmer – and he travels extensively playing his music all over the world.

“PAS is delighted to have the very talented Robert Mirabal return to Socorro and Macey Center,” Series Director Ronna Kalish said. “He is a truly gifted performer, who is helping to keep alive the Native American traditions that have formed the spiritual and cultural backbone of this region for many generations.”

The event coincides with the 26th annual Festival of the Cranes, with events in Socorro and at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

“We are excited to offer a performance by such a talented and well known performer, particularly with so many tourists and other visitors expected for the weekend,” Kalish said.

Raised traditionally by his mother and grandparents on the pueblo, Mirabal, now 47, spoke Tiwa at home and began making flutes at the age of 19. In school, he had learned how to play clarinet, saxophone, piano, and drums, but found his true musical voice in the traditional Native American flute. He met the renowned flute player R. Carlos Nakai as a young man and was greatly inspired by him.

Mirabal moved to New York City and played in a multicultural band; there he immersed himself in hip-hop, funk and rhythm and blues, which would influence his later music. After recording an independent debut album in 198l, he landed a contract with two labels, performing traditional music consisting of Native American flute and percussion.

He went on to collaborate with a number of singer-songwriters and musicians before forming the band Mirabal in 1995. Mirabal came to greater national prominence during his performance in the 1998 PBS musical dance production, Spirit: A Journey in Dance, Drum, and Song, for which he composed the soundtrack with traditional flute and percussion.

Due to the popularity of the program, the network went on to produce a music/dance program centered entirely on Mirabal and his traditional/rock fusion music in 2002, entitled Music from a Painted Cave. The program and its corresponding CD release were enthusiastically received by mainstream audiences and became a benchmark world music album. He also collaborated with John Tesh for the acclaimed PBS One World TV special for the millennium in 2000, which showcased music from around the world.

In the years since, Mirabal has continued the evolution of his flute making, and has also become an accomplished novelist, poet, craftsman, composer, dancer, actor, painter, sculptor, concert performer and recording artist. His dozen albums of traditional music, rock and roll, and spoken word present a contemporary view of American Indian life that is unequaled.

“My music is informed by the ceremonial music that I’ve heard all my life,” he said. “What I create comes out of my body and soul in a desire to take care of the spirits of the earth.”

A leading proponent of world music, Mirabal has merged his indigenous American sound with those of Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, tapping into a planetary pulse with a style that defies categorization.

“My travels have provided me with experiences that I could have never imagined, and exposed me to a global sound and a global voice,” he said.

Those experiences have led to many honors for Mirabal, including two-time Native American Artist of the Year, three-time Songwriter of the Year, a 2006 Grammy Award for Sacred Ground, and his 2008 Grammy for Johnny Whitehorse Totemic Flute Chants, blending all his influences into a musical landscape that conjures up both the historic and contemporary West.

His 2002 breakthrough PBS Special, Music from a Painted Cave, is unsurpassed in Native American theatrical expression. He is also the author of A Skeleton of a Bridge - a book of poetry, prose, and short stories, and most recently his book, Running Alone in Photographs - a memoir laced with gritty, introspective prose, that opens a window to a palpable experience of life in the Pueblo through the voice of Mirabal’s alter-ego, Reyes Winds.

As a theatrical performer, the artist is no stranger to transforming himself. Most recently, he portrayed Tony Lujan (Taos Pueblo), the famed husband of Mable Dodge Lujan, in the movie Georgia O'Keeffe, a retrospective about artist Georgia O'Keeffe.

Sponsors for the performance are the City of Socorro, New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union, Van H. Gilbert, Architect; and Vertu Fine Art Gallery in Socorro.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $10 for youth, and are available online (for a small fee) at www.nmtpas.org, at the N.M. Tech Cashier’s Office (second floor of Fidel Center), in town at Brownbilt Shoes and Western Wear and Burrito Tyme Drive-up, or at the door.    

– NMt –

By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech