Native American Flute, Carlos Nakai

Hey, it’s Bailey again.

So speaking of gifts and talents, have you ever heard of Carlos Nakai?  Or listened to his amazing music?  I know it may sound odd that a teenage girl loves Native American flute music.  But hey, I’m an admitted Native wannabe.  I like rock music and even some country, too.  But for the Native flute, as far as I’m concerned, Carlos Nakai is the master.  What Carlos does with the flute is haunting and beautiful; moving and inspiring.

Now Carlos (who is of Navajo-Ute heritage) was originally trained in the classical trumpet, and I’m willing to bet he was good at it.  Really good at it.  Probably thought he had his whole life planned out.  And then disaster stuck.  He was in a car accident and got the horrifying news that he’d ruined his embouchure (which means the facial muscles necessary to play the trumpet). 

Devastating.  His whole life must’ve come to a grinding halt.  How could that happen to him?  Why the injury to the embouchure to someone who wanted to play the trumpet?  Why not an injury to the arm or the leg?  Okay, so what do you do now?

During his recovery, I think an uncle or a close relative presented Carlos with a traditional Native cedar flute, and challenged him to master it.  Now I’m sure Carlos went through all the emotions anyone would in that situation – disbelief, anger, sadness, wanting to throw in the towel and just curl into a ball.  But somehow he made it through it.  And he took that cedar flute and mastered it.  And I thank the Creator he did, otherwise I wouldn’t be enjoying it right now. 

Carlos now travels the world to play his music.  He plays solos, plays with symphonies, with jazz bands, and joins with other solo artists.  He has over 30 albums out there.  So, what if he’d just curled into a ball when tragedy hit?  What if he hadn’t taken his musical ability and applied it somewhere else?  I love Carlos Nakai’s music, but I think I love his spirit and his story even more.  You can find Carlos and a list of his amazing music at

I’m starting to believe what Mrs. Creek said – that each of us has many talents to choose from.  Have you thought about what your gifts and talents are?  About what you were given to share with the world?

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