Also known as Nahko Bear, Nahko (Nahkohe Parayno) is a sixth generation Apache/Mohawk with a Puerto Rican/Indian mother and a Filipino father, who grew up with the family that adopted him in an Oregon suburb. He suffered some early childhood identity problems until he began to ground himself in music. Taking up the piano at age six, he gave piano lessons and directed musical productions for local schools in his teens. His talents landed him a seasonal production position in Denali, Alaska, and there, with the wilderness around him, he began to put all the musical, cultural, and philosophical pieces of his personal creative vision together.
Seeing music as international, multi-generational, and multicultural, and as a redemptive and healing force, he joined with his backing group, Medicine for the People, anchored by horn player and Berklee School of Music graduate Max Ribner and percussionist Hope Medford. Together they began making what has been called "thump-hop," a percussion-heavy, rainbow-envisioned mix of styles and approaches that is at times as much spoken word as anything else -- a sort of 21st century medicine show for the mind and soul.
The group's debut album, Dark as Night, appeared in 2013, and debuted at number six on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart. After the follow-up, 2014's On the Verge, SideOneDummy released the group's third album in 2016. Titled Hoka, it reached number 72 on the Billboard 200. A year later, the band's leader released a more personal solo album, My Name Is Bear, under the name Nahko. Calling it a "prequel," it consisted of songs written mostly before he assembled his group. ~ Steve Leggett