Childhood of extremes had positive side for Nahko Bear
IF YOU saw Nahkohe Parayno on stage with Xavier Rudd at last year's Bluesfest, it would be hard to picture him as anything other than an intense, passionate, spiritual teacher, dripping with appeal both emotional and sexual.
It comes as somewhat of a surprise then to discover Nahko Bear, as he is more commonly known, is also capable of great lightness, whimsy and conversations about cookies.
This duality is reflective of a childhood of extremes. On the one hand his birth family suffered extreme poverty and deprivation as reflected in the lyrics of Oh So Thankful:
>> Nahko Bear will perform on Tuesday, November 18, and Thursday, November 20, at the Byron Bay Brewery with Dustin Thomas. He will also play at the Mullum Music Festival on Sunday, November 23.
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"Grandma used to cut herself raw
Not the hardest thing little mama's eyes saw
Said drunk Indians fighting' cops
Trafficking little girls around the block
Said when the rape gunna stop?"
Nahko himself is the product of this rape. His father was, in Nahko's own words, a child molester, 36 years old who left four kids and a wife in the cold.
At the other extreme was Nahko's adoptive family, religious fundamentalists who took him on when he was nine months old.
Nahko's adopted father encouraged him to learn music, and he got his first piano at six.
He also credits his birth father for his musical gift.
"I believe ancestrally, my birth father played a lot of music, so it's in my DNA."
When Nahko was 18, he got a music directing job inAlaska before moving to Hawaii at 19 and spending a year working on a farm, writing songs.
"I spent summers touring the states playing music and winters farming in Hawaii."
Now at the end of the American leg of an international tour, his personal life is a little less dramatic than his upbringing.