Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient, Multiple Award Winner, and Colville Tribal Chairman, Jim Boyd Passes Away
New York, NY - It is with great sorrow and profound sadness that the Native American Music Awards (NAMA) shares the announcement from The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation on the passing of multiple award winner and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Jim Boyd. On Tuesday, June 21st, Jim Boyd reportedly died due to natural causes. He was 60 years old.
"Jim Boyd was one of the most talented and genuine artists ever to grace our stage. He touched and influenced many by his sheer presence, modesty and versatile songwriting ability. A seven time award winner and a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, he was loved by all. We are grateful we were able to honor him and his music. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Shelly and family and to the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. He will be greatly missed." states NAMA Founder and President, Ellen Bello.
On June 22, 2016, the Office of the Vice Chairman, Michael E. Marchand of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation announced in a press release that the Chairman of the Colville Tribes, James L. Boyd, who had held the post of Tribal Chairman since 2014, had passed on. Vice Chairman Michael Marchand stated, "This is a very, very sad day for the Colville Tribes. One of our most respected leaders, and talented tribal members is no longer among us. The sheer enormity of our loss has not set in yet, and I doubt that it will for quite some time." Jim Boyd hailed from the small town of Inchelium on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State. He was a member of the Arrow Lakes tribe, which is one of the twelve tribes of the Colville Confederacy. He once stated, "I will always stand for our people, our land, and our future generations". As one of the most active Native American recording artists, Jim Boyd's music career spanned over four decades in the roles as; musician, performer, songwriter, and producer. He has worked on projects for Miramax, Warner Brothers, Mega International Records, Dixie Frog Records, Sound of America Records, as well as produced audio-visual projects for businesses and colleges.Jim has released 15 records to date; Reservation Bound, Unity, Reservation Blues, First Come Last Served, AlterNatives, Jim Boyd w/ Alfonso Kolb Live At The Met, Kyo-t Live, Going To The Stick Games, Them Old Guitars, Live At Two Rivers, Blues To Bluegrass, Voices From The Lakes, Harley High, Living For The Sunny Days, and most recently Bridge Creek Road. Jim also managed his own career and continued to perform as the business owner and operator of his label, Thunderwolf Records.
Jim has received multiple nominations and awards for his work from the Native American Music Awards over the years. At the Second Annual Native American Music Awards, he took home the award for Best Compilation Recording for the Smoke Signals soundtrack; at the Fifth Annual Awards, he won Record of the Year for his recording, AlterNatives. The next year he took Best Pop/Rock Recording for Live At The Met; at the Seventh Annual Awards he received Record of the Year for Going To The Stick Games; he received Songwriter of the Year at the Eighth Annual Native American Music Awards for Them Old Guitars; he won Best Short Form Music Video for Inchelium at the Ninth Annual Awards; and he received the prestigious Artist of the Year Award at the Tenth Annual Native American Music Awards.
On November 14, 2014, Jim Boyd was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions in the field of Native American music at the 15th Annual commemoration held at the Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel in Salamanca, New York. His wife Shelly and daughter Stevey were both in attendance.
Jim first started playing gigs in junior high in his older brother's band, The Benzi Kriks, around Sewart Air Force Base in Tennessee. In 1968, the family moved back to the Colville reservation where Jim continued to play gigs with his lifelong friend Jerry Stensgar, who played bass. He started playing cover music in bars by the age of sixteen.
At the age of 23, Jim was recruited as a guitar player in the group XIT, which was one of the first rock groups in Indian country to have success. Boyd played for two years with XIT. Boyd also appeared in the documentary, XIT: Without Reservation, which was a live recording filmed at the Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, Minnesota. Boyd and XIT bass player, Frank Diaz, started a cover group called Greywolf with drummer, Ed Banning. This group continued in many forms throughout the next fifteen years, and eventually added drummer Alfonso Kolb, who continued to play with Jim afterward. After Diaz's departure, Jerry Stensgar joined as bass player until Greywolf officially disbanded.
With intentions to become a recording engineer instead of a songwriter, Jim attended the Recording Workshop in Chillicothe, Ohio in the early 80's. He didn't start writing his own songs until the age of thirty, penning lyrics about Native American issues placed to contemporary music. He met Sherman Alexie at the Columbia Folk Festival in Spokane when Alexie was preparing his first movie, Smoke Signals on Miramax. He asked Boyd to write songs for the soundtrack. The first song Jim wrote, "Father and Farther," became the movie's central theme. "Music is Jim's voice," Alexie had said. "With his music, he is more courageous, more passionate, more extroverted. He is a gentleman, tender and funny in his private life, and brash and courageous on his public stage. I love them both."
Jim had four songs featured in the Miramax motion picture Smoke Signals, which were also included on the TVT Records soundtrack. He also recorded music for Warner Bros. books on tape, Indian Killer.
Not all of Jim's songs dealt with Native American issues or Native American genres for that matter. His songs ranged from folk to country, rock and blues all while balancing his commercial and artistic sides. A music magazine said he was "a mix of folk, rock, blues, thoughtful lyrics with great guitar riffs and strong vocals".
In 2001, Jim released AlterNatives, which received Record of the Year by the Native American Music Awards.
In 2002 and 2003, Jim released consecutive live releases. The first was LiveAt the Met, which was recorded with just Jim and percussionist friend Alfonso Kolb. The next year he released Kyo-t, LIVE, which was Jim's four-piece band at that time.
In 2005, Jim released what would win another Record of the Year. This release was called, Going To The Stick Games, which was a tribute to a traditional game that is still played today. Jim fused Stick Game songs with contemporary music in an Americana vein. Jim said "although it was a tribute to the Stick Games, it was also a tribute to Hidden Beach, which is on Twin Lakes where I used to play this game when I was younger." Them Old Guitars was released in 2005, of which the title song was a tribute to Boyd's childhood friend and bandmate, Jerry Stensgar. Jerry passed away at the age of fifty. Live At Two Rivers was released in 2006 by the Jim Boyd Band and featured the songs "Inchelium: and "Rebel Moon" which were later released on a compilation recording in France.
In 2007, Jim released Blues to Bluegrass, which was called a "true American gem" and he received Artist of the Year from the Native American Music Awards. In 2010, Jim recorded and released Voices From The Lakes, a more traditional release featuring cedar flutes, drums, and lyrics that were inspired by the history of the Arrow Lakes People. Jim released a twelve-song Cd entitled, Harley High, in 2011 that was recorded in Nashville and engineered by Grammy award winner Bobby Bradley. Harley High was a mainstream rock recording that portrayed Jim's love for riding Harley Davidsons.
In 2013, Jim re-mastered and re-released, UNITY, originally released in 1993. This year, Jim released, Bridge Creek Road, featuring an album cover photo of him performing from the last awards ceremony which he had just submitted for nomination consideration in the upcoming Native American Music Awards. Jim has toured throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. He has performed and/or recorded with mainstream artists as; Bonnie Raitt, The Indigo Girls, Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, and Clint Black, both as a solo artist and with other groups. He appeared at festivals like The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Seattle's Bumbershoot, Hard Rock Hotels, The Sundance Film Festival, an appeared on CBS 60 Minutes.
At the time of Jim's death, he was serving his second term on the Colville Business Council as Chairman and was standing for reelection. He was previously the Culture Committee Chairman, Vice-Chairman of the Business Council, and Chairman of the Law & Justice Committee. Following news about Jim Boyd's death, his wife, Shelly wrote in a Facebook post... all we feel right now is the loss. He was a very, very strong person who worked very hard and was so responsible with his word and his commitments. We had suffered a great loss in the community last week and he was working hard to make sure things were running smoothly behind the scenes, as was his way. He collapsed sometime on Tuesday. He passed of natural causes and appeared not to have suffered. All I can say is he took excellent care of himself, he ate well, and he exercised religiously. However, we know now that he was out of his high blood pressure medication. ….As you all know, he loved music and it truly was his religion. It would be such an honor if those of you who loved him brought out your guitars, your hand drums, your big drums, your flutes, your voices and sang him on his way. I just want to give those traveling some idea on how to make plans. For those of you with plans this weekend especially for the kids, he would want you to enjoy your family time.
In addition to his wife Shelly, Jim Boyd is survived by his mother, Violet Boyd; brothers Lanny and Michael; sisters Pam, Luana and LaDonna; sons Joel, Dakota, Brian and Michael Carson, and daughter Stevey Seymour; nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
As we mourn the loss of Jim Boyd with his family, we will also celebrate the many amazing songs and recordings he has left us and the world. Andwherever you may be, remember to bring out your guitars, your hand drums, your big drums, your flutes, your voices and sing Jim on his way.