Ray Carlos Nakai was born in Flagstaff, Arizona on April 16, 1946 and now resides in Tucson, Arizona. He began his musical career as a freshman at Northern Arizona University studying brass instruments and playing in the NAU marching band. In his second year, he enlisted in the US Navy with the hope of eventually playing in the Armed Forces Band.(1) He passed the highly competitive auditions for the Armed Forces School of Music and was 28th on the waiting list for admission. Playing with the Armed Forces Band became impossible, however, because an auto accident damaged his mouth, making it impossible to produce the correct embouchure to continue playing brass instruments.(2) Shortly after this accident, he was presented with a gift of a traditional Native American cedar flute and challenged to master it.
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