Music of Arizona

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The music of Arizona began with Indigenous music of North America made by Indigenous peoples of Arizona. In the 20th century, Mexican immigrants popularized Banda, corridos, mariachi and conjunto. Other major influences come from styles popular throughout the rest of the United States.

Music form of art using sound

Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

Indigenous music of North America, which includes American Indian music or Native American music, is the music that is used, created or performed by Indigenous peoples of North America, including Native Americans in the United States and Aboriginal peoples in Canada, Indigenous peoples of Mexico, and other North American countries—especially traditional tribal music, such as Pueblo music and Inuit music. In addition to the traditional music of the Native American groups, there now exist pan-tribal and intertribal genres as well as distinct Native American subgenres of popular music including: rock, blues, hip hop, classical, film music, and reggae, as well as unique popular styles like chicken scratch and New Mexico music.



Flagstaff has a community (non-professional) orchestra, the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra. The FSO includes both townspeople and faculty and students from Northern Arizona University. The Orpheum Theater is the largest performing venue in northern Arizona.[ citation needed ] The city hosts two music festivals, the Flagstaff Folk Festival and the Flagstaff Music Festival.

Flagstaff, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Flagstaff is a city in and the county seat of Coconino County in northern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. In 2015, the city's estimated population was 70,320. Flagstaff's combined metropolitan area has an estimated population of 139,097. The city is named after a ponderosa pine flagpole made by a scouting party from Boston to celebrate the United States Centennial on July 4, 1876.

Northern Arizona University public research university located in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

Northern Arizona University (NAU) is a public research university with its main campus in Flagstaff, Arizona. Governed by the Arizona Board of Regents and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the university offers 158 baccalaureate and graduate degree programs.

Native American flautist R. Carlos Nakai, of Navajo/Ute origin, was born in Flagstaff.

Native American flute flute

The Native American flute is a flute that is held in front of the player, has open finger holes, and has two chambers: one for collecting the breath of the player and a second chamber which creates sound. The player breathes into one end of the flute without the need for an embouchure. A block on the outside of the instrument directs the player's breath from the first chamber — called the slow air chamber — into the second chamber — called the sound chamber. The design of a sound hole at the proximal end of the sound chamber causes air from the player's breath to vibrate. This vibration causes a steady resonance of air pressure in the sound chamber that creates sound.

R. Carlos Nakai American flautist

Raymond Carlos Nakai is a Native American flutist of Navajo/Ute heritage.

Ute people Native Americans of the Ute tribe and culture

Ute people are Native Americans of the Ute tribe and culture and are among the Great Basin classification of Indigenous People. They have lived in the regions of present-day Utah and Colorado for centuries, hunting, fishing and gathering food. In addition to their home regions within Colorado and Utah, their hunting grounds extended into Wyoming, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. They had sacred grounds outside of their home domain that were also visited seasonally. Spiritual and ceremonial practices were observed by the Utes.

Navajo punk band Blackfire formed in Flagstaff.


Phoenix has been called a "rock mecca" by Jim Adkins of the Phoenix rock band Jimmy Eat World. [1] Tempe (home of Arizona State University) and Mesa also coexist with Phoenix as part of the Arizona musical scene. Other Phoenix bands include the Meat Puppets, Gin Blossoms (lead guitarist Doug Hopkins died in '93 in Tempe), Phunk Junkeez, Chronic Future, Dead Hot Workshop, The Jetzons, and Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers.

Phoenix, Arizona State capital city in Arizona, United States

Phoenix is the capital and most populous city of Arizona, with 1,626,000 people. It is also the fifth most populous city in the United States, and the most populous American state capital, and the only state capital with a population of more than one million residents.

Jimmy Eat World American rock band

Jimmy Eat World is an American rock band formed in Mesa, Arizona in 1993. The band is composed of lead guitarist/lead vocalist Jim Adkins, drummer Zach Lind, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Tom Linton, and bassist Rick Burch. As of October 2016, Jimmy Eat World has released nine studio albums, the last eight featuring the current lineup.

Tempe, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Tempe, is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, with the Census Bureau reporting a 2017 population of 185,038. The city is named after the Vale of Tempe in Greece. Tempe is located in the East Valley section of metropolitan Phoenix; it is bordered by Phoenix and Guadalupe on the west, Scottsdale and the Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community on the north, Chandler on the south, and Mesa on the east. Tempe is also the location of the main campus of Arizona State University.

In the 1960s, rock and R&B bands inspired by British Invasion groups like The Beatles appeared in Phoenix. Musicians to emerge from this era include Alice Cooper, and Bill Spooner of The Tubes. The group Pages was formed by Phoenix residents Richard Page and Steve George, who later formed the nucleus of the Phoenix pop-rock group Mr. Mister (who had 2 #1 Hot 100 hits, including "Broken Wings" in 1985).

British Invasion phenomenon when rock and pop music acts from the United Kingdom became popular in the United States

The British Invasion was a cultural phenomenon of the mid 1960s, when rock and pop music acts from the United Kingdom and other aspects of British culture, became popular in the United States and significant to the rising "counterculture" on both sides of the Atlantic. Pop and rock groups such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Kinks, the Dave Clark Five, Herman's Hermits, the Zombies, the Hollies, and the Animals were at the forefront of the "Invasion."

The Beatles English rock band

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The line-up of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr led the band to be regarded as the foremost and most influential in history. With a sound rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the group were integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form, and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. They often incorporated elements of classical music, older pop forms, and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways, and in later years experimented with a number of musical styles ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As they continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they came to be seen as embodying the era's sociocultural movements.

Alice Cooper American rock singer, songwriter and musician

Alice Cooper is an American singer, songwriter, and actor whose career spans over fifty years. With his distinctive raspy voice and a stage show that features guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, deadly snakes, baby dolls, and dueling swords, Cooper is considered by music journalists and peers alike to be "The Godfather of Shock Rock". He has drawn equally from horror films, vaudeville, and garage rock to pioneer a macabre and theatrical brand of rock designed to shock people.

Dolan Ellis has lived in Phoenix most of his adult life. He moved to LA in the early 1960s, where he was an original member of the Grammy-winning folk group The New Christy Minstrels. Dolan returned to Phoenix while the group was still at its peak. In February 1966, Governor Sam Goddard appointed Dolan as Arizona's Official State Balladeer, which was renewed under ten consecutive governors. He was selected as the first Arizona Culture Keeper, and Senator John McCain read his accomplishments into the U.S. Congressional Record. Dolan spent a few years away from Phoenix from about 1993 through 2003, to found the Arizona Folklore Preserve in Ramsey Canyon. He still commutes to the AFP, where he continues to serve as Artist in Residence, about twice a month.

Francis Dolan Ellis has been Arizona's Official State Balladeer since 1966, as appointed by ten consecutive governors. Governor Sam Goddard made the first appointment. Since then, official balladeers have been appointed in other states.

The New Christy Minstrels are an American large-ensemble folk music group founded by Randy Sparks in 1961. From their beginnings as prominent figures in the early-1960s U.S. folk revival, the group recorded over 20 albums and had several hits, including "Green, Green", "Saturday Night", "Today", "Denver", and "This Land Is Your Land". Their 1962 debut album, Presenting The New Christy Minstrels won a Grammy Award and sat in the Billboard charts for two years.

John McCain American politician

John Sidney McCain III was an American politician and military officer who served as a United States senator from Arizona from January 1987 until his death. He previously served two terms in the United States House of Representatives and was the Republican nominee for president of the United States in the 2008 election, which he lost to Barack Obama.

In the early 1980s, Phoenix hardcore punk bands included The Feederz, JFA (Jodie Foster's Army) and Meat Puppets, the latter of which had country influences and became a major influence on grunge. Other rock bands of the time included Flotsam and Jetsam, Sun City Girls, Sacred Reich, Caterwaul, and Mighty Sphincter.

During the 1990s, Chester Bennington (d.2017), lead singer for Linkin Park, spent several years in Phoenix as the lead singer for the post-grunge band Grey Daze. Bennington also collaborated with Phoenix musician DJ Z-Trip. This period also saw the formation and rise of pop punk/emo band Jimmy Eat World. Bob Stubbs, formerly of Social Distortion, played drums in local bands.

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw an emerging rock scene in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. Indie rock bands included The Stiletto Formal, Gloritone, Fine China, Peachcake, and The Format. Punk influenced artists included Where Eagles Dare, Authority Zero, Against The Majority (ATM), Haunted Cologne, and Andrew Jackson Jihad. There was also a post-hardcore scene including bands like Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Blessthefall, Eyes Set To Kill, The Word Alive, Greeley Estates, and American Standards. [2] The middle years of the decade was marked by the transition from hardcore punk into death metal with bands such as The Irish Front, Knights of the Abyss and Job for a Cowboy.

Singer CeCe Peniston grew up in Phoenix and began her career in 1991.

Country music star Dierks Bentley is from Phoenix and Michelle Branch is from Sedona. Country star Marty Robbins had a #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit with "El Paso" in 1959.

Arizona residents who have had varying success on the American Idol show include Jordin Sparks who won the sixth season. She was later selected to sing the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLII, which happened to take place in her hometown of Glendale, Arizona. On the seventh season of American Idol, Arizona had two contestants make it to the final twelve. David Hernandez came in twelfth place while Brooke White made it to fifth place. The eighth season featured a regional audition at the Arena in Glendale on July 25, 2008. Several contestants made it to the "Hollywood phase" but only one made it into the final twelve: Scott MacIntyre, who came in eighth place. Despite this, Phoenix was called one of the "year's standout cities." [3]

Phoenix is home to the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra.

Hispanic/Latino music has a large following here, and numerous import stores exist throughout the city for it. There are also several Spanish-language music radio stations. The annual Fiestas Patrias celebration brings Mexican groups including Los Tigres del Norte.

Folk musician Joe Bethancourt was a long-time resident. [4]


Phoenix music venues have included Comerica Theatre, Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion, Long Wong's, The Mason Jar, Modified Arts, Trunk Space, Paper Heart Gallery, Club Red, Marquee Theatre, and Compton Terrace. Local entertainment companies include Fizzle Promotions. There are dance clubs in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Phoenix is still a common place for "raves", dance parties hosted in typically in warehouses, legal venues, or isolated desert locations.


The city of Tucson, Arizona, has an Official Troubador position, currently Ted Ramirez. Ramirez is a singer and songwriter who uses both English and Spanish lyrics, as well as singing in O’odham; he is also an Arizona Culture Keeper. The Ronstadt family, which includes Linda Ronstadt, are from Tucson. Linda Ronstadt had a #1 Hot 100 hit with "You're No Good" in 1975.

Tucson's music festivals include the Norteño Music Festival & Street Fair, which celebrates the Mexican-American style of norteño. Tucson also hosts the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

The first weekend in May each year, the Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association hosts the Tucson Folk Festival, a two-day event on four stages, with about 100 acoustic music acts. The first festival was held in 1986.

Lalo Guerrero, known as the "Father of Chicano Music" and a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, was born in Tucson, where he lived until his early 20s. He died on March 17, 2005, at the age of 89, and was one of the first inductees to the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame.

Travis Edmonson was named Tucson's "Singing Ambassador of Goodwill" in 1975, a mayoral appointment that still stands today. Edmonson grew up in Nogales and spent time in Mexico developing a talent for singing and playing the native music of Mexico. Edmonson and his friend actor Roger Smith were active musicians at the University of Arizona. Edmonson went on to become a member of the Gateway Singers and was half of the folk and Mexican music duo Bud & Travis that recorded intermittently from about 1958 to 1965, producing 10 albums. Edmonson was inducted as an Arizona Culture Keeper in September 2005, where his citation includes these words: "Edmonson has been at the vanguard of the movement to bring Latin music north of the border."

Other notable Tucson musicians include Bob Nolan, Katie Lee, and Rex Allen. Bob Nolan, a founder of the Sons of the Pioneers and the composer of songs such as "Cool Water" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds", was a Tucson High graduate and wrote "Cool Water" while still in school.

Katie Lee moved to Tucson around the age of 1, and is an actress and folk singer. She is also an activist, and her cause is documented in her book, All My Rivers Are Gone. Lee also wrote a book about cowboy music and recorded a double LP (with Travis Edmonson) by the same name, Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle.

Rex Allen was a singing cowboy who performed after Roy Rogers. A native of Willcox, he lived in Tucson in his later years.

At the age of 11, John Denver received his first guitar from his grandmother while living in Tucson.

In the 1980s and throughout the 1990s, Tucson was the site of an underground music scene centered on Club Congress and a handful of other clubs and backyard parties located in the neighborhoods near the University of Arizona. Indie rock and punk rock bands included Giant Sand, The Bled, Machines of Loving Grace, Digital Leather, Rainer Ptacek, Doo Rag, Bob Log III, Malignus Youth, Naked Prey and The Sidewinders (later the Sand Rubies).

See also

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  2. You, Riff. "Getting to Know Arizona Hardcore Act American Standards". Retrieved 8 January 2015.
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  4. Masley, Ed. "Local musician Joe Bethancourt dies at 68". Retrieved 2015-10-26.