Cary Morin, the Colorado-based fingerstyle guitarist and songwriter, was born in Billings, Montana. His lush, cinematic lyrics evoke images of big-sky country, desert plains, and lost highways accompanied by world-class guitar playing. A Tuscarora and Taino Nations musician, Cary met Music Maker’s Tim Duffy over a decade ago.

Duffy explained the genesis of their friendship. “Cory came out and played on a Pura Fé record. She’s a really big-time visionary artist. She started a great group called Ulali. She’s now traveling with Rhiannon Giddens on the Silk Road Ensemble. Cary worked on two or three records. I immediately recognized when I met him that he was a brilliant songwriter and a brilliant guitar player. He’s a finger-style genius. He went out on the road with Pura Fé and now he’s out doing his own thing. He loves traveling on the road. Cary’s a real troubadour.”

Morin is the grandson of Robert Yellowtail. Morin’s roots are in the Crow Nation. He’s also a tribal member with both Assiniboine Sioux and Black ancestry. Morin picked up the guitar when he was ten. “I’d already taken piano lessons for quite a few years. There was a Yamaha classical guitar that belonged to my brother. When he went to college he didn’t take it with him. Or his albums. I picked up the guitar and discovered it was very easy to pick up chords. I already understood triads. Eventually, my parents started providing me with guitars. They bought me a fiddle. They always encouraged me.”

As a teenager, Morin played in country, rock, and bluegrass bands. His talents only increased as time passed. Now, his worldwide performances have raised the profile of Indigenous music from the U.S. West. He’s won numerous awards as well as performed at the Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, the Vancouver Olympics, the Paris Jazz Festival, and across the U.S. and Europe.

Comparisons to Oklahoma-born guitarist Jesse Ed Davis are not far off the mark. Morin’s bands The Atoll and Ghost Dog offer a wide range of musical diversity. Music Maker recorded Morin’s first album, Sing it Louder. Morin spoke of Music Maker, “I don’t know of many other organizations who have such a targeted mission like Music Maker.”

Morin’s ten albums prove he’s in a category of his own. He discussed the influence his family had on his music. “We’d visit my grandfather often. His brother, Thomas Yellowtail, was the spiritual leader of the Crow Nation and really for all the tribes in this area. He was Sun Dance Chief. He was an extremely holy guy. Hearing him talk was a big influence. He would come to my shows when I was young. Having them in my life influenced my music–like any other songwriter. In a childhood sense, I wanted to impress the people that impressed me. I did it through music.”

Morin’s tune “You Were With Me” appears on disc four of Song Keepers: A Music Maker Anthology. “I wrote it as a message to my son. I was wondering what the land looked like before all the roads, highways, fences, and power lines were there…”

Cary Morin stands as a musical warrior of the highest order.

Tintypes by Tim Duffy.
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