William Horncloud,
Traditional Lakota Songs
(Canyon, 1998)

Traditional Lakota Songs is Volume 15 of the Canyon Records Vintage Collection. William Horncloud, the featured singer, was born in 1905 and died in 1988. He learned many of the older songs that reached directly back to the 1800s. He was a farmer and rancher who traveled through the Northern Plains to sing at intertribal pow-wows and teach his songs and dances to the younger generations. He has been credited with preserving much of the Lakota culture.

I was especially impressed by the "Honoring Song," performed here by Charles Red Cloud, the son of Chief Red Cloud. He was 86 when this recording was made. He performs without accompaniment and demonstrates an exceptional vocal quality and rhythm with amazing range. Other singers on this recording are Ben Sitting Up and Frank Afraid of Horses.

I liked the love songs a bit more the others. They are slower and have less emphatic drums. These differences are quite noticeable after a war song, which is fast and has a sense of urgency. The "Chief's Honoring Song" is fantastic, and the singers bring their voices together with a fine harmony and echo effect. This is a superb song.

The inside of the cover tells more about William Horncloud and his music. There are listings for each song that provide background on the song, its significance in the Lakota culture and the words for the songs that have lyrics instead of vocables.

This is my favorite of the CDs in the Canyon Records Vintage Collection. Horncloud has a beautiful voice with awesome range and tonal quality at all levels. Although the Northern Plains style is not my favorite, this man has a way of performing that just draws the listener into his song and projects them into the Lakota culture. This CD should be in the music collection of any person with an interest in Native American music.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 1 November 2003

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