Gordon Bird, a member of Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arickara Nations, grew up with indigenous traditions including songs and dances. At age four, he was already singing traditional Indian music while living on the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. He attended BIA boarding school in Pierre, SD, and learned to play the guitar by eighth grade. Later, he formed the Echoes band and then the Gordon Bird Band while attending the Flandreau, SD, Indian Vocational School.
After working for United Sioux Tribes, he went to broadcasting school and became a counselor and coordinator of Indian studies at Dakota State University. In Madison, South Dakota, he teamed up with Jerry Kroon, Mike Hinde, and Randy Pooley to form the Chevelles, which later became Gordon Bird & The Stingrays with Rick Gillis replacing Kroon on drums. The band had a unique sound and was offered regular bookings all over the 4-state area (SD, ND, MN, IA) in dance halls and other venues. They even opened for popular bands such as the Beach Boys.
After the Stingrays broke up due to members being drafted or heading back to college, Gordon played in Minneapolis with Ernie Story & The Imaginations and later formed the Gordon Bird & Sound Creation band. He toured Europe twice and even wrote music for the Northern Exposure TV show.
Gordon married JoAnne Bird, and their family formed the BIRD! performances group, which performed Indian social songs, inter-tribal songs, and honor songs using vocals, drums, and flutes. They also performed contemporary music, including Blues and Rock & Roll. Gordon and JoAnne formed Featherstone Productions, a music production company that recorded other people's stories, languages, and music, and produced and marketed recordings of Indian music, stories, and languages.
Gordon has written many songs and recorded several albums under the Featherstone label. He has a unique sound, and some people have even compared his vocals to those of Stevie Ray Vaughn. His commitment to the stages on which he has performed is impressive, and recognition of his achievements is what the Spirit of the Music Award is all about.
2023Spirit of the Music Award