Native American violinist Arvel Bird, whose haunting music is reflected in his Paiute-Celtic roots, will appear in a free concert with the Symphony of the Canyons Saturday, May 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the Kanab High School Auditorium.

Bird returns to Kanab after having taped a television commercial with the local symphony orchestra in 2009. This time, it will be a complete performance, with the first half featuring Bird playing a mixture of native American and country music. The second half of the performance he will perform his own “Tribal Suite: Journey of a Paiute” with the symphony, under the direction of Kortney Stirland.

“We are extremely fortunate to have an artist of Arvel’s caliber come to Kanab to perform with our orchestra, and we are working hard to prepare for what we think will be one of our more memorable concerts here in Kanab,” said Stirland, who is in his 25th year of leading the Kanab-based symphony.

Bird, who is a classical violinist, but also versatile enough to once win the Indiana State Fiddlers Contest, will show his wide array of skills in the concert. During the week leading up to the performance, he is expected to meet with local elementary and high school music students to speak about music and answer questions.

Born in Idaho, and raised in Utah and Arizona, Bird showed early promise on the violin. His first private music teacher in Salt Lake City saw his potential and taught him to play with passion. She also brought the magic of music to life, instilling in the young artist self-confidence, poise, walking, state presence, and presentation.

As a college student at the University of Illinois, Bird blossomed under the tutorage of renowned Hungarian violinist Paul Roland. Initially seeking a classical music career, he was drawn to and inspired by the Appalachian, Bluegrass and Celtic styles in the Midwest.

Settling down in Ft. Wayne, IN, allowed him to develop his own music style, along with a large, loyal following. In 1986, he toured worldwide with Glen Campbell, and performed with Campbell’s band for six years. In 1991, he moved to Nashville and continued touring with Loretta Lynn, Louise Mandrell, Clay Walker, and others. He also built and operated a recording studio, where he engineered and produced thousands of songs and hundreds of albums for clients all over the world when not on the road.

His real dream was to record and perform his own music, using the violin as a lead instrument – completely contrary to the Nashville view of the fiddle as a backup or side-musician instrument. The result was a blend of his Celtic and Native American roots that are uniquely his, and intricately woven throughout his songs.

Within six years he recorded 10 CDs of his own music and one DVD, earning him music award nominations. In 2006, two of these albums, Arvel Bird LIVE! and Animal Totems 2, struck gold in the Native American Music Awards (Nammys) and the Indian Summer Music Awards Best Instrumental categories.

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In 2007, he was voted Artist of the Year at the Nammys by his fans and peers. In 2009, he won Best Instrumental Album and Best Producer/Engineer (with Grammy-winning producer Tom Wasinger and Nashville engineer Chas Williams) for Tribal Music Suite: Journey of a Paiute.

Considered to be one of the hottest Native American artists on tour today, his continuously evolving music is delighting audiences worldwide. His latest album, Ride Indian Ride, that will debut at the Colorado Indian Market in January 2010, is a departure from his more traditional cultural music, with an edgier blues/rock sound that blends his Native American/Celtic roots with a stronger, more soulful sound.