NAU alumna Radmilla Cody nominated for Grammy Award
BY MYKEL VERNON-SEMBACH —
The start of 2013 for NAU alumna Radmilla Cody has certainly been in a whirlwind of excitement. A year after she released her latest album, Shi Keyah – Songs for the People (composed by her uncle, Herman Cody), she was nominated for a 2013 Grammy award. She was able to speak with The Lumberjack in detail about her album, the nomination and the upcoming ceremony. The Grammy Awards will be broadcast on CBS on Feb. 10 from 8—11 p.m. (ET/PT) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The Lumberjack: Tell us a little about your latest album.
Radmilla Cody: The latest album Shi Keyah – Songs for the People is an album that honors Mother Earth and all that we coexist with on Mother Earth such as the horses, the plants, the land, the people and the various [Navajo] agencies. These are the Western Agency, the Central Agency, the Northern Agency, the Eastern agency, the Fort Defiance agency and also our sacred mountains. So everything that we coexist within this world in that regard is acknowledged and also honored in this album. This album also honors our veterans, our code talkers, honoring them though songs such as “Navajo Warrior,” which is about the different wars beginning first and foremost with WWI, WWII all the way to Iraq and in Afghanistan, and saying things about our warriors who are fighting for our freedom and for our country. Patriotism is certainly in place within this album. It’s about life in general. It’s really about everything that encompasses our life today as Dine people and as people in general and how we connect with everything in our life and in our world.
LJ: How does it feel to receive a Grammy nomination? You must be excited.
RC: I was shocked and surprised and I recently lost my grandmother exactly a month and a day [ago]. My grandmother, Dorothy Cody, is the person who has raised me and has taught me all the life-sustaining methods of the Dine people. I have always acknowledged her for everything she has taught me. Immediately, I thought of her at that moment and looked up and started to cry, asking her, “What are you doing up there, Grandma?” In my mind, I still think she’s in cahoots with Whitney Houston because I grew up idolizing [Whitney].
LJ: Will you be attending the Grammy Awards ceremony in L.A.?
RC: Yes, I will be attending the Grammys. I’m very excited . . . Just the prepping process has been somewhat stressful but at the same time exciting. Stressful in a sense that I’m having all my traditional clothes designed by my aunt, Thelma Shonnie, from her clothing line Shima E’e’. She’s always made my traditional clothes prior to Miss Navajo Nation and then during my term as Miss Navajo Nation to present day.
LJ: As of 2010, traditional Native American music has been grouped together with zydeco, Cajun and Hawaiian music into a category called Regional Roots for the Grammys. What is your opinion on this change?
RC: It would be nice to have our own categories back, but considering that we are under Regional Roots category I am very grateful that we have had this opportunity to make that break though. I see this as something positive in the sense that we are treated as an equal status.
LJ: Have you listened to any of the other nominees in the Regional Roots section? What do you think of them?
RC: I enjoy all music, so I understand as an artist, how much goes into creating album and recording and promoting an album. So if anything, I just appreciate and value not only the music itself but also the work that goes into the music process.
LJ: What do you look forward to most during the Grammy Awards? Any one you’re particularly excited to meet?
RC: I look forward to meeting all the people that will be present and attending and just enjoying the whole shebang of being there as a nominee. I went five years ago just to experience it, but going as a nominee now is a whole other plain, a whole other level. I’m looking forward to being apart of the award ceremony and meeting all the different musicians and recording academy members and just enjoying this journey. I am excited to meet Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Mary J. Blige, Emeli Sandé and especially Adele.