Navajo pianist starts production company

Courtesy photo
Keith Chee records in Wild Saguaro’s new studio in Chandler, Arizona.


WINDOW ROCK

Most musicians love what they do … except for the money part.

“You want to focus on the art, on the music,” explained Connor Chee. “But then there are all the business things to take care of.”

Chee, who has managed to make a living in Chandler, Arizona, in the competitive world of classical piano, has learned one or two things along the way. Now he’s ready to smooth the way for others, in spite of his new music production company’s prickly sounding name.

Wild Saguaro is looking for great new artists to record and promote. If you’re an indigenous musician of any genre — metal, classical, rock, traditional — Wild Saguaro is willing to take a listen.

“I think what sets us apart is we’re not focusing on any one genre,” Chee said in a telephone interview from his Chandler studio. “Natives are doing some exciting things with all kinds of sounds. People are already submitting some interesting demos.”

Chee said the company has a couple of albums ready for release next month — including Chee’s own new release — and several more in the works. The music will be available on “the usual online retailers” — Amazon, iTunes, Google, etc. — as well as Wild Saguaro’s own online store at wildsaguarorecords.com.

For those who prefer an old-fashioned CD, “We have a great distributor who has a relationship with Barnes & Noble,” Chee said. The new company is also forging relationships with trading posts in Arizona and New Mexico.

Chee said he and his collaborators went through several names before settling on Wild Saguaro. “We wanted imagery that had to do with where we’re from and where we live now,” he said, “but a lot of the stuff we came up with was already taken. I think ‘Wild Saguaro’ embodies our spirit.”

While the saguaro is not a Navajo plant, Chee made sure to incorporate some Navajo imagery in the logo, which features a circle with a traditional zigzag pattern. “You’ll notice there’s an opening at the top of the circle,” he said. “It’s a reference to the Navajo tradition of leaving room for the flow of energy. That’s what we want to do, is to get the energy flowing for our performers, get them to the next level.”


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Categories: Music

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at editor@navajotimes.com.