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  • Writer's pictureMyra Chapman

1000 Miles Away - Robert Mirabal

Jesus, who can I turn to in all the evils of my pain?

It was rare for a musician to receive virtual artistic freedom from a major label, and equally rare for a traditional Native American artist to achieve mainstream popularity, yet Robert Mirabal managed to do both with his many albums of traditional music, rock and roll, and spoken word.

A leading proponent of world music, Mirabal merges his Indigenous sounds with those of Africa, Asia and Australia, tapping into a planetary pulse with a style that defied categorization winning multiple Grammy & Native American Music awards with multiple nominations in various categories.

In 2001 Mirabal released "Music from a Painted Cave", a live concert recorded on December 16, 2000, at the Fox Theater in Mashantucket, Connecticut, before a crowd of 2,000. For this elaborate program Mirabal was joined by one of his bands, Rare Tribal Mob (an anagram of Robert Mirabal).

Choreographed by Boye Ladd, a video version of Music from a Painted Cave aired as a concert special on PBS on March 8, 2001. Reviewing a live performance of this work, Daune Stinson in News from Indian Country said of the extravaganza, "It's just about the most beautiful piece of theatre, and ... splendor." Native American Times called this work, "An evolutionary vision of one man from birth's breath to the metamorphosis of time." The album peaked at number six on the Billboard charts.

Mirabal has received numerous grants and academic honors, among them a Meet the Composer Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In the fall of 1995 he served as artist in residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and held similar posts at Dartmouth College and Cambridge. A respected composer, Mirabal's works have been performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. On May 30, 2003, the Taos County Chamber of Commerce proclaimed Robert Mirabal Day in Taos.

As a farmer Mirabal continues to live a traditional life at the bottom of the scared Sangre de Cristo Mountain range in Taos Pueblo, New Mexico where he maintains a shop on the Pueblo and is very active in his community,

His PBS Special "Music From A Painted Cave" remains a benchmark in Native American theatrical performance.


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