BEHIND THE MUSIC
A Lifetime of Music
Archie James Cavanaugh was born in Wrangell, Alaska, and raised in Kake, Alaska, a predominantly Tlingit community located on Kupreanoff Island in Southeast Alaska. This town of 600 people had a 40-piece Salvation Army orchestra, a jazz band composed of older experienced horn players called the Old Timers, and two rock and roll bands. In high school, Archie had a band called the Poor Boys and played for local dances. Much of Archie's exposure to music came from listening to these many different genres of music.
Black and White Raven was the manifestation of a youthful dream to record his original music, honor his Tlingit heritage, and bring together a group of musicians he cared for and respected. His wife, Melinda, helped write lyrics on many of the songs. In the song “Take it Easy”, Archie borrowed a line from a poem by Melinda’s Grandmother: "For I’ve heard the luring call that the wind and waves have sung, but duty chained my Gypsy heart when my old dreams were young." Each piece of the album came together with elegance and simplicity, which you can hear in the easy-going calm of Archie’s voice.
In the years after Black and White Raven, Archie continued to record and play, releasing the album “Love Birds” and “Alaska Jazz” co-written with his wife Melinda. The song “It’s Alright" is the story of when Archie and Melinda met. The Alaska Jazz album includes the song “I’m So Excited” honoring his Tlingit language. Later in life, he began exploring his Tlingit culture in the form of award-winning traditional artwork; some of his carvings are displayed at the State Museum in Juneau, Alaska. He remained a well-respected musician and artist throughout his life until his passing at the age of 67 in 2018.