Who is Red Raven? My name is Thomas Mays but as a performer I am known as Red Raven Blue. I am a Mixed Blood (Seneca, Onondaga and Canadian) First Nation / Native American with a deep respect for the ways and traditions of my ancestors. However as I am a Mixed Blood I sometimes find it hard to except the duality of my cultures. So as a means of expressing who I am I have set out to create a new style of music, which I call "Mixed Blood Blues". This is a mix of the traditional style and rhythm of my ancestors with the contemporary beat and instruments of todayís music.
I was born to military parents and lived as a military brat moving from base to base until my fatherís death. My mother could not deal with the stress of his passing and could no longer hold our family together. I was orphaned at age five. At the time I had little understanding of what was going on, I had no friends. I no longer had a family, no sisters, and no brothers. Now I felt I had no past and I had no future. The only thing I possessed that would comfort me and help ease my sorrow was music. I always had song or a tune in my head and in my heart. It was my constant companion. It helped through some hard times, it helped heal me.
As the years went by I found that I had a natural ability with musical instruments, I could play almost any instrument I put my hands on. While many urged to perform, I couldnít. I found I was too shy. My music was too personal, too private. However that didnít stop me from wanting to work in the music profession. I studied sound engineering and began working with many different bands. Sometimes I would play a little backup keyboard or bass. It wasnít much but it made me happy.
I didnít have many belongings from my childhood, but what I had I cherished. I had some photos of my father and the rest of my family and I had a necklace of elkís teeth that had been handed down from my grandfather. I remember my sister once telling me to always remember that I was an Indian. But I didnít know what that meant. I didnít feel like an Indian, then again I didnít know how an Indian should feel, or what one would think, or even know. All I knew was that I felt an emptiness that would probably never be filled. One night my home caught fire. Suddenly gone were the photos of my father, my family and my memories. I felt that I had lost everything all over again. It was all gone, except for the necklace. It had been badly damaged, but at least I still had the pieces.
Time passed, then one day a friend of mine introduced me to his new girlfriend. She was an artists and a jeweler. I brought her the pieces of the necklace and asked if she could somehow take the burned and broken pieces and make it whole again. She said that she couldnít but she was going to a seminar of a Seneca elder a clan mother who might know. She took the pieces of the necklace with her and went to this three days of lectures. When she returned she was excited to tell me the news that the Seneca elder recognized the necklace and knew the family that it was from. I was given her phone number and was told to call her. When I did I was greeted with a voice of and old woman who said that she had waited for years to find me, and that she was afraid that she would never see me again. The tears began to flow down my cheeks when she told me that I had been gone far too long and that it was time for me to come home. The emptiness was gone and now replaced with something I never thought I would have, a sense of belonging, of family. I was going home.
Once reunited with the world I had lost I began to understand what it was to be an Indian. I began to learn the ways of my ancestors. I began to feel the pride of who I was. One day I was given a Native flute. I had never heard one before. I knew nothing about how to play it, but I learned fast. The flute became an important part of my life. It had given me the voice needed to express myself musically in ways I never thought possible. I feel truly blessed.
Although I now live happily with my wife Megan in the White Mountains of Northern New Hampshire I still return to the reservation whenever I can. From a rough and rocky beginning, life has turned out pretty good. After traveling all over the country it feels good to settle into an area of the world as beautiful as the White Mountains. I now share my knowledge and skills of music and technology with students in small Vermont town of Canaan, where I work as a Technology Coordinator for the schools district.
Megan and I have recently toured China where I had been invited to perform and lecture on the importance of art, music and technology in education, and the creative use of technology in the classroom. China was great! From hiking the Great Wall to visiting the Forbidden City it was a truly amazing experience. Most all went well while visiting schools and universities. Chinese educators truly thirst for ways on how to make the classroom a better and more creative place for students. I played my flute everywhere. From jamming with teenage Chinese street musicians in Beijing, to playing a Native American Shaman song in the temples of Ti Shan (one of Chinaís sacred mountains) to a small village in the Shandong region. If all goes well I will return someday for a cultural exchange of indigenous music. Feel free to check out my Photo Page to see some of the sites.
How times have changed, I find Iím not the shy kid I once was. Now I have the need to get my music out into the world, so I have produced my first CD of Contemporary Native American Music and Mixed Blood Blues. (Red Raven Blue ~ First Flight).
This is for all of those people who are seeking their path. Trying to find a way to heal their spirit. This is for all the Mixed Bloods everywhere.
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