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Courtesy photo
Country music artist Victoria Blackie.

At a youthful 23 years of age, Victoria Blackie, who is a member of the Navajo Nation, is fast becoming known for her vocal talents.

In 2010, she was nominated in eight categories in the Native American Music Awards and won the prestigious “Debut Artist of the Year Award.”

“That opened a big door for me in my music career,” said Blackie, who was born and raised in Salt Lake City. “It amazes me that I even have people in other countries, such as Austria for example, listening to me.”

Blackie started singing as a toddler and has yet to lay down the microphone.

In 2002, she was able to take part in the Winter Olympics festivities.

“That was a step," Blackie said. "Several members of my family were involved in the Olympic events also.”

She was born into the LDS Church and was baptized at age 11.

“My family and the gospel are what keeps me going,” she said. “Some days can be really tough. You may get rejected, shows can get canceled — things can go wrong. The gospel and strong support from my family keeps me going. I am living my dream and I have come too far to quit now. The desire is in me to go forward and I am.”

Growing up, Blackie took dance, violin, guitar and voice lessons. She has sung the national anthem for small and very large crowds, and for city officials and dignitaries.

At the age of 13, she was invited to perform on a 30-day tour of Japan. It was hard for her parents to let her go, but they recognized her desire to succeed.

The Academy of International Recording Artists has nominated Blackie as the AIRA Female Vocalist of the Year for her international airplay in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Rim. The AIRA recognizes new artists who have scored big in the international charts on the Pacers Radio Network.

Her versatile voice caught the attention of the Indian Summer Festival in Milwaukee, where she won awards in the Best Country and Best Blues categories. Her "Wanted Man" album was produced by Legends Hall of Fame producer Robert Metzgar from Nashville, Tenn.

Blackie is very involved in her native culture. She can be found at powwows and native cultural events across the nation.

This weekend, April 28-30, she is performing at the Gathering of Nations, described as "the world’s largest gathering of Native American and indigenous people," at the University of New Mexico’s University Arena. According to a press release, the 28th annual Gathering of Nations is "considered the most prominent Native American powwow in the world."

For more information, visit http://www.victoriablackie.com/home.cfm.

Becky Robinette Wright is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Virginia.