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Red Bull Keeps Drumbeat Alive

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      POWWOW ISSUE 1998      v28 n03 p18  
Red Bull Throughout the span of time music, like traditional stories, has been passed from generation to generation. Singers are born not made, some believe.

Young children, not yet able to walk or talk, demonstrate their enchantment with song and with the drum. They sit for hours on end before a cassette deck playing traditional music, teaching themselves those age-old rhythms.

It is the power of the drum, the heartbeat of a people, that draws them as young children and sustains them throughout their lives.

For more than ten years now, the Red Bull Singers have remained dedicated to ensuring that the drum, the voice of First Nation people, is heard throughout the world. The drum group has performed across Canada and the United States from Seattle to Los Angeles to Oklahoma. And, in 1995, they were part of the Goodwill Games, travelling to Poland, Finland, Sweden and Russia to spread their sound.

Edmund Bull is the lead singer, manager and drum keeper for the group. From the Little Pine First Nation, he learned to sing and to drum from his father and uncles, following the tradition in his family.

Bull put together a group of family and friends from Little Pine, Onion Lake, Poundmaker and Red Pheasant First Nations in 1987 to debut at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College's Annual Powwow. The Red Bull Singers were soon in high demand throughout North America.

Officially, their music is classified as northern original style that showcases high-pitched vocals. However, they typically perform a mix of traditional, original contemporary powwow and round dance music. Their songs are traditional, passed from generation to generation, and contemporary, mainly composed by Bull.

The Red Bull Singers strive to produce quality music that is innovative. Their efforts and the pride in their culture that they display have won them a wide audience that includes Buffy Sainte-Marie. This famous songstress recorded Edmund Bull's song "Darlin' Don't Cry" on her compact disc Up Where We Belong and the group was featured in the video.

As their audience has grown, so has the demand for their participation at powwows and round dances. Red Bull has been the host drum for powwows all over the continent and performs regularly at round dances throughout the winter months.

They were recently the only drum group to perform at the first-ever Native American Music Awards at the Fox Theatre in Mashantucket, Connecticut. And, they are one of only two Canadian groups to act as host drum for the Red Nations International Powwow '98 at the end of August in Red Wing, Minnesota.

For the second time now, the Red Bull Singers were named best in the world at the prestigious 1997 Schemitzun World Championships in Hartford, Connecticut. They had previously won this title in 1995, the same year that they were nominated for a Juno award.

Edmund Bull has called this title an honour and credits the Creator for the success the group has experienced. The Red Bull Singers will be appearing at powwows throughout Saskatchewan this summer and will be competing for top honours at the 1998 Schemitzun World Championships later this year.

Red Bull recordings are available through Sweet Grass Records at (306) 343-7053.