Saving Damsels earn NAMA rock award
By Shondiin Silversmith
WINDOW ROCK, May 23, 2013
W inning a Native American Music Award has become more than just a career boost for members of the band, Saving Damsels.
It's proof that six years of hard work is paying off, according to lead singer and rhythm guitarist JJ Otero.
"I was bracing for the worst," Otero recalled while NAMA officials announced winners for best rock album. "It was an overwhelming feeling."
Otero accepted the award in the Best Rock category on behalf of the band during the 14th annual NAMA awards ceremony on May 10 in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
The band entered "Protected (Beauty All Around)," a song that is sung entirely in Navajo.
Although he was the only member who attended the ceremony, the others - including Douglas Bellen (keyboard), Joe Pacheco (bass player), Chuck Hawley (lead guitarist) and Marcus Ridge (drummer) - tuned into the live streaming of the event on the NAMA Web site.
"Everybody was super excited," Otero said of the band's reaction to the news.
Otero said the award is the result of six years of hard work including the search for the right band members and proper music recording.
"I have a great set of band members right now," he said. "It will open up a lot more doors for us."
Otero said he looks forward to the band being able to playing more on a national level.
"That really is the great benefit of winning a Native American Music Award," he said.
Saving Damsels is based out of Albuquerque, N.M. and originally formed in 2007 as a four-piece band with Otero on lead vocals and acoustic guitar. Since its formation Otero said they have gone through a lot of changes to its lineup, and it wasn't until 2009 that he was able to find the current members for today's Saving Damsels.
Otero said the challenge was, "getting members into the band that were better than the rest of us and us needing to step up to that," adding that he found exactly that through Bellen and Hawley.
Otero said he gives a lot of credit to Hawley because he brings professionalism and musicianship to the band, which has allowed them to start developing the tone of their band.
"His influence is just years and years of guitar playing and he loves the music," he said of Hawley. "He helped us elevate our playing because he's just a professional."
Of Bellen, Otero said, he brings a "trained influence to the band" because he is a music teacher.
"He's the one always telling us what we're doing wrong, and that's good because we need that."
Information: www.savingdamsels.com. For a list of Native American Music Award winners: www.nativeamericanmusicawards.com.