National Museum of the American Indian in New York Announces 2017 ‘Native Sounds Downtown!’ Lineup

Free Outdoor Concerts Feature Diverse Musical Talent, Ranging From Andean Folk Music to Contemporary Rhythm and Blues

June 1, 2017

The annual “Native Sounds Downtown!” concert series returns to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center in New York City with two performances this summer. The series kicks off in June with the Quechua band Inkarayku, performing Andean folk music fused with other folk traditions of the Americas, and finishes in August with the contemporary rhythm and blues vocalist Spencer Battiest (Seminole).

Inkarayku performs Saturday, June 17, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., and Battiest performs Thursday, Aug. 3, at 5 p.m. Each concert takes place outside of the museum on the cobblestones at the base of Bowling Green Park. In the case of inclement weather, the performances will take place in the museum’s first-floor Diker Pavilion for Native Arts and Cultures. Admission is free.


Inkarayku is a Quechua word that means “because of the Incas.” Led by founder and musical director Andres Jimenez (Quechua), the group seeks to link the past, present and future of Andean arts, through the performance of indigenous music forms that have evolved into the contemporary mestizo music heard today. Inkarayku’s sound blends the organic power of Quechua folk songs with the energy and edge unique to New York—the city that never sleeps. The band’s diverse lineup brings together a river of musical and artistic experience resulting in Andean folk music that transcends cultural boundaries.

Founded in 2010, Inkarayku developed out of Jimenez’s former group Inka Kusi Sonqo. The ensemble has grown to include a full lineup of Andean flutes, strings, percussion and vocals. Current group members include Jimenez, vocalist and percussionist Naomi Sturm, vocalist and wind-instrumentalist Carlos Moises Ambia (Quechua), guitarist Adam Negrin and guitarist/bassist Erico Benavente (Quechua). The concert will also feature special guests vocalist Romina Carnica (Quechua), violinist Luis Casals and percussionist Chris Howard.

Spencer Battiest

Battiest‘s soulful R&B voice led him in 2013 to become the first Native artist to sign with Hard Rock Records. Growing up on the Hollywood Seminole Indian Reservation in Florida, Spencer’s passion came from singing gospel hymns in the Miccosukee and Choctaw languages before turning his sights on Pop/Rock and R&B music. He has performed at many notable global concerts, including London’s Calling Festival and 2015’s Hard Rock Rising in Barcelona.

Battiest collaborated in 2011 with his brother Doc to write and produce the widely acclaimed single “The Storm,” a song representing the history of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The music video for the song, directed by filmmaker Steven Paul Judd (Kiowa/Choctaw), won Best Music Video in the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts’ Santa Fe Indian Market Class X category. It also achieved nominations for three Native American Music Awards. Battiest and Judd were again recognized in 2014 for their music video “Love of My Life,” which took home Best Music Video at the 39th Annual American Indian Film Festival, as well as another win at the Santa Fe Indian Market. Most recently in 2016, Battiest was awarded Best Pop Recording at the Native American Music Awards for his album, Stupid in Love.

“Native Sounds Downtown!” is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

About the National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present and future—through partnership with Native people and others. The museum’s George Gustav Heye Center is located at One Bowling Green in New York City. For additional information, including hours and directions, visit Follow the museum via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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[Category: Society and Culture]