APRIL 16, 1946


Nakai, born in Flagstaff, Arizona (AZ), played in the marching band at Northern AZ University (NAU) before an auto accident in 1968 damaged his mouth ending his ability to play brass instruments. In 1971, Nakai was gifted a traditional cedar Native American flute. Failing to find recordings or scores for it, he transposed traditional songs. After earning a bachelor’s degree at NAU (1979) & master’s at AZ University, Nakai taught high school while recording his own music. With Canyon Records he issued his debut album, Changes, in 1983. Since then, he has released 30+ albums either solo; collaborating with other noted musicians; or with groups such as Jackalope, R. Carlos Nakai Quartet & Japan’s Wind Traveling Band. In 1996, Nakai co-authored The Art of the Native American Flute. One of 5 Native American flute players featured in the 1999 film Songkeepers, Nakai received the AZ Governor’s Arts Award (1992) & was inducted into the AZ Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame (2005).  

Source: Thom Jurek, “Biography: R. Carlos Nakai,” 
All Music.  Retrieved September 5, 2021,  R. Carlos Nakai Biography, Songs, & Albums | AllMusic
Photo: Hugo Ramos, 4/28/2012. Permissive Use. 

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