Navajo band hopes to inspire listeners
by Samantha K. Nelson, student writer
Nov 14, 2007 | 599 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
     Blackfire is a Native American band that has fused rock and roll music with Native American original singing styles to create their own unique sound.

    The group consists of two brothers and a sister ‒ drummer, Clayson Benally, lead vocalist/guitarist Klee Benally, and bass player/back up vocalist, Jeneda Benally ‒ all members of the Navajo Nation. The band members call themselves Diné, and they are from Black Mesa, Ariz. Currently, Blackfire is based out of Flagstaff, Ariz.

    Blackfire members, who founded the band in 1989, said they hope to inspire more musicians to get out there and show everybody what they have to offer.  

    "We started playing when our instruments were bigger than we were," said Jeneda Benally.

    Today, Blackfire tours all over the world and they have recorded two full-length albums and a number of compilation albums. Blackfire's first performance in front of a big crowd was in 1989/1990 on New Year's Eve.

    The Benallys said one major influence for their music has been traditional Navajo music. Group members also cited the Ramones, the Dead Kennedys, classical music and many other diverse musical styles as major influences.

    Blackfire has a huge fan base in Timbuktu, members said. The band said they enjoy performing in really remote places.

    "We play in really strange remote places, and sometimes I feel like the more remote we get the more unique and powerful the experience is," said Klee Benally.

    One of the band's most popular songs requested by audiences is the Woody Guthrie favorite, "Mean Things Happening in This World." Clay Benally said he believes audiences love the band's updated version of the song because it really connects to the world today and it talks about peace and negative things that are happening in the world community.

    Band members said they enjoy playing the song because it gets really good feedback from their fans as a lot of people can relate to it.

       The Benallys said they strive to be very independent with everything they do. Blackfire has founded its own recording company; the band's members create their own album covers, and they strive to let listeners know that individuals can be in control of their own lives.

    "I'm really influenced by music that comes from the heart," said Jeneda.

      The band recently performed in Moab during the Moab Folk Festival. Now, the group is headed to California for a week-long tour.

    For more information about Blackfire, visit the group's website at

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