“Robby Romero is an articulate artist and advocate for the causes and concerns behind a cultural resistance that is older than this country.”
- Danny Schechter, Media Channel
Robby Romero rose to prominence with the global broadcast of his first music video campaign, “Is It Too Late” and designation as a United Nations Ambassador Of Youth For The Environment. Over the past two decades, he has used the international languages of music and film to help shift the paradigm and bridge the gap between east and west, Indigenous Peoples, human rights, and the environment through his non-profit organization, Native Children’s Survival (NCS).
As a musician, Romero’s groundbreaking and award-winning “Native Rock” music has taken him from the heart of Indian Country to the main street of the world sharing the stage with music greats like Cat Stevens, Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, and John Lee Hooker. As a filmmaker, the phenomenon of his innovative music videos, music pictures, stereotype-breaking public service announcements, and politicized rockumentary films have catapulted him into an arena of his own making. Romero’s work has premiered on national and international networks from MTV, VH1 and Sundance Channel, to SABC Africa, ZDF Europe, and ORT Channel One Russia.
Robby is the founder of Eagle Thunder Entertainment (ETE), an artist-owned and operated independent Indigenous company consisting of four divisions: 1) Film Production, 2) Music Label, 3) Music Publishing, and 4) Management. ETE has reached millions of listeners and viewers from all walks of life through global releases, broadcasts, and live musical tours.
From the front lines of Climate Change, Robby’s latest project “Who’s Gonna Save You”, is the first in a series of music pictures and music singles to be released from Eagle Thunder Entertainment in support of Native Children’s Survival’s Project Protect Awareness Campaign. Project Protect is a global awareness campaign fighting for the rights of Mother Earth and all her children.
Given the fallout from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear disaster in Japan, the devastating record breaking heat waves, droughts, fires and floods this past summer, to the cataclysmic Superstorm, Hurricane Sandy, “Who’s Gonna Save You” is more than music and more than timely.
“Who’s Gonna Save You” had its African broadcast premiere on South Africa’s hit program YoTV and number one network SABC Africa on 2 December 2011. The broadcast took place during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban, South Africa. In conjunction with the broadcast, Robby gave several national TV, radio, and print interviews, including a live performance on South Africa’s popular e.TV “Sunrise” show in Johannesburg with an Indigenous African youth choir.
In December 2012, the music picture had its southwest premiere at the Santa Fe Film Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The “Who’s Gonna Save You” music single and music video impacted radio and music television in November during Native American Heritage Month, and droped globally 20 November 2012.
Robby’s DELUXE EDITION of “Who’s Gonna Save You” dropped globally 21 December 2012 on iTunes. The DELUXE EDITION includes the music single and special edited music video for iTunes.
100% of profits from the single and video sales support NATIVE CHILDREN’S SURVIVAL’S Project Protect Climate Change Awareness Campaign.
“December 21, 2012 marked a celebration of the end of an ancient mystic cycle and the recommencement of an Indigenous call to consciousness for the restoration of life in balance”, says Romero. ”Now through the power of music and film we set on a journey to motivate, inspire and engage the world’s communities into positive action.”
Romero’s rare performances outside of Indian Country have spanned such notable venues as the historic National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and the renowned Komische Opera in Berlin. Robby Romero has used his voice and presence to stand up internationally for the preservation of the earth and the celebration of all of her children. His efforts, dedication and passion have led Romero to be honored and supported around the world by an array of people, including Indigenous leaders and politicians, fellow artists and activists, celebrities, friends and fans of all walks. Romero offers a profound voice of appreciation and action, weaving the timeless wisdom of Indigenous peoples into the unfolding fabric of the future.
The Robby Romero Story
“Everything new is hidden in the past.” - Robby Romero
Some are born knowing who they are and where they are going. Others spend their entire lives trying to find out. Some never do. Robby Romero has always known.
Robby’s early life was spent in the age-old tradition of living out of the proverbial suitcase. Only his suitcase bridged a cultural divide. He traveled between two very different worlds – namely that of New Mexico with its Native customs, and Hollywood with its own set of customs unlike any other.
Robby’s father worked in show biz for the David Wolper Organization while his mother lit-up the silver screen in numerous motion pictures, including a series of Elvis Presley films. Robby even met The King.
Surrounded by some of the most artistic minds of the time, Robby spent much of his childhood in the company of Dennis Hopper, a relationship that would have a powerful, lifelong impact on his own creativity.
As Robby matured, he learned to combine the best of what he loved about both of those worlds. By thirteen, he was singing his songs in Taos Plaza Cantinas and recording in Hollywood with celebrated Native American guitarist Jesse Ed Davis, acclaimed producer Rob Fraboni, hipster singer-songwriter and producer Thomas Jefferson Kaye, eminent recording artist Johnny Rivers and the legendary virtuoso Van Dyke Parks. Robby’s music had its radio debut on KROQ in Hollywood, introduced by “The Mayor Of Sunset Strip”, Rodney Bingenheimer.
Throughout his youth, Robby performed in Hollywood’s talked-about club scene. He played the Palomino, the Troubadour, the Starwood, the Roxy Theater, and the most infamous of all, the Whiskey A-Go-Go. He toured with country singer and Academy Award-nominee Ronee Blakley, Paul Butterfield of The Butterfield Blues Band, Gene Clark of The Byrds and Rick Danko of The Band. But it was his apprenticeships with Latin activist Reyes Tijerina and Native American activist Dennis Banks that would change the course of Robby’s life and put him on the Red Road that he was born to follow.
Crossing cultural boundaries around the world, Robby has conducted and performed at historic events including:
The “Oglala AID” concert in North America with Dennis Banks, Buddy Redbow and Floyd Westerman that benefited the Village of Oglala on the Pineridge Indian Reservation in Indian Country;
The “Sacred Run for Land & Life” and “Mother Earth” Tours in in North America and Japan with Dennis Banks, Tomas Banyacya, Buddy Redbow and Floyd Westerman that benefited the Sacred Run Foundation;
The “Good Road” and ”All Our Colors” concerts in North America with Chief Oren Lyons, Bonnie Raitt, and Carlos Santana that benefited the American Indian Institute Traditional Circle of Elders and Youth;
The “Benefit to Stop Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in Indian Country” in Washington, D.C. hosted by Senator Edward M. Kennedy;
The “Encounters - An Alliance For Children” Tour in Europe that benefited more than 13 children’s programs around the world, including the building of the “Sacred Hoop” Lakota Language Immersion School in Oglala, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation;
The “Concert For Peace” in Germany with Mikhail Gorbachev, President Shimon Peres, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Yusuf Islam (a.k.a. Cat Stevens), Dakota Romero, Carlos Santana, Angélique Kidjo and Peter Maffay that benefited the Milagro Foundation in San Francisco and the Desmond Tutu Peace Center in South Africa;
The United States Leavenworth Penitentiary Concert for Native American Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier with Mitch Walking Elk on behalf of Native American Political Prisoners everywhere;
The Viva Mi Raza (Long Live My People) concert in North America;
The Drums Across American concert in North America;
The National Congress Of American Indians Banquet in Indian Country;
The Rainbow Warrior Festival concerts and film in Indian Country;
The House of Painters and House of Artists concerts in Russia;
The United Nations Children and the Environment Programme, in North America;
The Earth Day Celebration in North America;
The United Nations Earth Summit in South America;
The United Nations World Forum on Racism in Australia;
The United Nations World Forum on Sustainable Development in South Africa;
The Wendell Chino Mescalero Apache Humanitarian Award Banquet in Indian Country;
The Concert for Peace in Germany;
The Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change in Indian Country;
The United Nations Climate Change Conference;
Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Denmark;
Conference of The Parties COP17) in South Africa;
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in North America and
The Truth and Reconciliation Concert in Canada.
He shared the stage with Arlo Guthrie, Bonnie Raitt, Buffy Saint Marie, Carlos Santana, Cat Stevens, Dakota Romero, Freddy Fender, Jimmy Cliff, John Lee Hooker, Paul Winter, Richie Havens, Ry Cooder, Susan Aglukark, Steve Miller, Stevie Wonder and many more.
Robby has also performed and his music has been exhibited at prestigious art events, gallery’s and museums around the world, including:
The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts Annual Gala in Santa Fe;
The POP Art Exhibition in New York City;
The Michael McCormick Gallery in Taos;
The House of Painters in Moscow;
The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe;
The National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe;
The Artport Eco Art Exhibition in Denmark and
The National Museum of Denmark in Copenhage.
Robby’s work has earned him certificates of acknowledgement and appreciation from an array of organizations, including:
SONY/BMG Music Entertainment;
The National Congress Of American Indians;
The Earth Day Network;
The United Nations Environment Programme;
The Red Road Foundation;
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and
The Aveda Corporation.
Robby founded Native Children’s Survival (NCS), a non-profit organization devoted to the healing of Mother Earth and all her children. He also founded the innovative Native Rock band Red Thunder and was signed to Chris Blackwell’s Island Records, identified by the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame as “one of Britain’s great independent labels”. Robby began recording and filming the first in a series of music singles and music videos in support of NCS’s music movement with English film, documentary and music video director Julien Temple who began his career with short films featuring the Sex Pistols.
Following President Gorbachev’s historic environmental message at the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders in Moscow, Robby’s first NCS music video campaign, “Is It Too Late”, was broadcast around the world from the Kremlin on ORT Channel One Russia and at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. This endeavor earned Robby the title of United Nations Ambassador of Youth for the Environment. Live performances included: The House of Painters and House of Actors in Russia and The Rainbow Warrior Music Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Robby’s Native Rock band, Red Thunder, with roots deep in the heart of Indian Country, debuted live from the Apache Territories of the Southwest as part of MTV’s “Street Block Party” broadcast. Robby was featured on CNN’s “Earth Matters” and his music and likeness were featured on the TBS star-studded hit cartoon “Captain Planet”. Robby and Red Thunder made several special appearances during the year including: The Concert for Native American Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier at the United States Penitentiary Leavenworth in Kansas and The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts Annual Gala in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
While preparing for the first and largest environmental conference in history at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, Robby continued to work on the TBS eco-cartoon series “Captain Planet” and his next singles “Prayer Song” and “Heartbeat”. International performances included:
The Good Road “All Our Colors” Concert in North America;
The United Nations Environment Programme in North America;
The Concert for the Native American Program at Dartmouth College, North America;
The United Nations Earth Summit in South America and
The Nuclear Free Forum in Austria.
During a concert at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Robby was presented with the distinguished Aveda Eco-Perennial Award.
As part of MTV’s “Free Your Mind” campaign, Robby created several stereotype- breaking public service announcements to introduce contemporary Native Peoples to the music television generation, and to help dispel myths and misconceptions about Native Peoples in pop culture. The campaign won the industry’s prestigious Cable Ace Award. Robby was featured on VH1′s Inside Music and he wrote, directed and scored a World Alert Special, “Makoce Wakan: Sacred Earth”. The VH1 World Alert Special was produced to help support legislation then in Congress to protect Native Peoples Sacred Sites and Freedom of Religion. The legislation was successful and the rockumentary film generated the highest viewer response of any show on the network to date at that time, gaining 160,000 new subscribers from the heart of Indian Country for MTV Networks.
Robby founded Eagle Thunder Records and released Red Thunder’s self-titled debut EP exclusively in Indian Country. With their singles “Heartbeat” and “Prayer Song” in rotation on VH1 and MTV2, spinning on Native Radio, and a special appearance on the PBS hit puppet show “Puzzle Place”, an episode that become the most watched and requested episode of the series, Robby & Red Thunder began their groundbreaking and critically acclaimed Indian Country Tour.
Eagle Thunder Records released Red Thunder’s LP “Makoce Wakan” exclusively on Turtle Island. Robby & Red Thunder were invited on the 1995 and 1996 H.O.R.D.E. Tour, a Blues Traveler-founded festival that came to define a genre of explosive live performances and intense fan loyalty, as well as the Blues Traveler Fall tours. Robby & Red Thunder were featured on MTV’s “Crossroads” and “H.O.R.D.E. Bootleg Special”. The tour lineups included: The Dave Matthews Band, Sheryl Crow, The Black Crows, Rickie Lee Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Taj Mahal, Ziggy Marley, Natalie Merchant and Blues Traveler.
With laurels from critics and throngs of new fans, Robby & Red Thunder returned to Indian Country, rolling onto the Navajo Nation for the Annual Hodiits’a concert with Native post-punk band, Blackfire, and punk rocker, Joey Ramone. They stormed the Pacific Northwest for the grand opening of Chief Leschi Schools and headed east for a series of concerts across Indian Country.
Robby & Red Thunder continued on the Red Road with stops that included a string of appearances in Gwich’in Villages in the Arctic, a special benefit concert for Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana and the Onondaga Nation Music festival.
Robby wrote, scored and directed “Hidden Medicine”, an experimental short film dealing with the mystical relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the environment. The film was produced by Roland Joffé, best known for his Oscar-nominated movies “The Killing Fields” and “The Mission.” ”Hidden Medicine” was produced to support legislation then in Congress to protect the remaining four percent of America’s forests.
Featuring a preface by Robert Redford, “Hidden Medicine” premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and screened at International Film Festivals around the world. ”Hidden Medicine” had its broadcast debut that same year on Sundance Channel in the “Best of the Fest” series with a successful appeal that encouraged viewers to take immediate action regarding both The Act to Save America’s Forests and the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act.
2000 / 2001
The “Hidden Medicine” LP was released on Eagle Thunder Records exclusively in Indian Country and Robby & Red Thunder hit the road in 2000 and 2001 to tour from the Native territories of North America to the Aboriginal territories of Australia. Robby and Red Thunder headlined the Indigenous Cultural Festival in Australia and made a special appearance at The United Nations Conference Against Racial Discrimination.
“INDIGENOUS”, a new product line celebrating Beauty in balance with Nature, created and developed by Robby with the Aveda Corporation, was launched. ”Indigenous” is a Purifying Collection, sustainably harvested by Native Peoples, that included a Purifying Pure-Fume Composition, Purifying Hair and Body Cleanser, and Purifying Aroma Candle. The “Indigenous” Collection has donated over one million dollars to Indigenous and environmental organizations around the world.
Also in 2002, Robby and producer Roland Joffé documented “America’s Last Frontier”, a musical journey from Washington, D.C. to the homelands of the Gwich’in Nation in Alaska. ”America’s Last Frontier” was produced to help stop legislation then in Congress that would open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration. The rockumentary film aired on SABC Africa’s hit program 50/50 during the United Nations World Summit On Sustainable Development in South Africa. The broadcast was successful, the legislation was stopped and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was protected. “We had amazing feedback from our viewers and they enjoyed the educational ride, the critical message so eloquently brought across with the beauty of Alaska and music that could become a hit in South Africa.” – SABC Africa. Following the broadcast, Eagle Thunder Records released the ”America’s Last Frontier” soundtrack on Turtle Island with a string of international live performances and film screenings.
On behalf of NCS, Robby created another Public Service Announcement campaign called “r u 2 cool 2 care…” The first in the series, “Save The Arctic Refuge,” focused on legislation to permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. ”Save The Arctic Refuge” was launched nationally on music television and internationally on the World Wide Web. In honor of the Indigenous delegates attending the United Nations Permanent Forum On Indigenous Issues at the UN Headquarters, Robby gave a special performance at New York Public Theatre’s, Joe’s Pub.
As America prepared for it’s Presidential Election, so did Indian Country. Native Nations launched a national “Get Out the Vote” campaign and Robby & Red Thunder hit the road on the “Rock The Rez Vote” Campaign Tour, targeting swing-states in Indian Country. Special guest speakers included Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Chief Executive, Melanie Benjamin and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. In support of a new generation of Indian Country leaders, Robby performed at the Presidential inaugurations of Floyd “Buck” Jourdian, Chairman of the Red Lake Nation and Cecilia Fire Thunder, President of the Oglala Sioux Nation.
Robby founded Eagle Thunder Entertainment (ETE). ETE released a limited edition of Robby’s work on behalf of NCS entitled, “Native Children’s Survival, If not now, when? If not you, who?” This essential CD/DVD eco-pack is a collection of music, music videos, rockumentary films, exclusive interviews on MTV, VH1 and Sundance Channel and public service announcement campaigns about the critical need to permanently protect our last remaining wild places and safeguard the rights, culture, lands and territories of Indigenous Peoples.
Following the release, Robby began work on “Native Wind”, the next project of the NCS “r u 2 cool 2 care…” public service announcement campaign. “Native Wind” had its debut at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City on September 16, 2005, with some of the world’s most influential political and business leaders in attendance. ”Native Wind” made its film festival premier at the 2006 American Indian Film Festival at the Palace Of Fine Arts in San Francisco, CA and went on to showcase at Festival De Cannes, Short Film Corner, in Cannes, France, the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival presented by Patagonia, Robert Redford’s Sundance Summit, and at the United Nations World Environment Day Global celebration.
Sony/BMG released “Encounters – An Alliance For Children”. The album featured a duo of Robby and German Rock Legend Peter Maffay performing Robby’s Indian Country hit single “Heartbeat”. “Heartbeat” became the album’s single. The single and album’s release were followed by a string of TV and Radio appearances including, BRAVO Magazine’s 50th Anniversary Celebration of music history and youth culture with a live three-hour international television satellite feed, an AOL International Live broadcast, and a 2007 15-city Arena Tour. The TV lineups included Beyonce, Tokio Hotel, Sting, Keith Urban, and more. The “Encounters” project was successful in raising over one million Euros to benefit children’s programs around the world, including the building of the “Sacred Hoop” Lakota Language Immersion School in Oglala, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. At a press conference in Germany, Robby was presented with a Gold Record from the Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI), the Federal Association of Music Industry in Germany.
“Pathfinder”, a 20th Century Fox film in which Robby produced the Traditional Native Music and was a consultant for the production, was released. ”Pathfinder” is based on the Academy Award nominated film of the same name for best foreign film by Nils Gaup, and is directed by Marcus Nispel and produced by Phoenix Pictures’ Mike Medavoy and Arnold Messer. Robby also produced the ETE Indian Country self-titled debut release, “P. Town Boyz”. The P. Town Boyz are an acclaimed Ojibwe youth drum group from the traditional village of Ponemah on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.
During the summer of 2007, Robby joined Mikhail Gorbachev, Yusuf Islam, Angélique Kidjo, Peter Maffay, President Shimon Peres, Dakota Romero, Carlos Santana, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a Concert for Peace in Bochum, Germany. Robby had the honor of performing with and signing Carlos Santana’s classic hits “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va” before performing his own hits, “Heartbeat” and “Hidden Medicine”. Proceeds from this concert supported the humanitarian projects of the Milagro Foundation in San Francisco and the Desmond Tutu Peace Center in South Africa.
ETE released “Painting The World”, a limited edition CD/Single that celebrates the historical adoption of the United Nations’ “Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous Peoples”. Featuring Indigenous artists from around the world, “Painting The World” raises awareness about global warming and climate change. The CD release party took place during the United Nations Permanent Forum On Indigenous Issues Cultural Event on Earth Day, April 22, at United Nations Headquarters in New York City with a live performance by Robby and Indigenous musicians from around the world.
At the request of Red Lake Nation Chairman, Floyd “Buck” Jourdian, Robby produced “Old Times” by the renowned pow wow group Red Lake Singers. ”Old Times” was produced to capture and preserve old songs and an “old-style” of singing of the Ojibwe people of Red Lake Nation. ”Old Times” was released exclusively in Indian Country by ETE. In a series of concerts around the world, Robby made several stops including one in Alaska at the Alaska Native Heritage Center for The Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Conference and one in Copenhagen, Denmark for the United Nations Conference Of The Parties.
2010 proved to be one of the most difficult years for Robby as his brother, father, friend and mentor Dennis Hopper fell terminally ill and began his journey to the spirit world. Robby worked with art dealer and gallery owner Michael McCormick, Native American TV Host and Attorney Stacey Thunder and then-New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to honor Dennis Hopper’s creative life and many contributions to the multi-cultural community of New Mexico. The result was the Governor proclaiming May 17 (Dennis’ birthday) as “Dennis Hopper Day” in the state Of New Mexico.
On April 22, 2009, the United Nations’ General Assembly made a historic move by proclaiming the day International Mother Earth Day. The effort was led by Bolivian Indigenous President, Evo Morales Ayma, in which he applauded the members of the world body for taking “a historic stand for Mother Earth”. To commemorate the UN’s unprecedented occasion and celebrate International Mother Earth Day, NCS partnered with ETE to produce a music picture of Robby’s song, “Who’s Gonna Save You”. The music picture had a sneak-peak broadcast premiere on South Africa’s number 1 network, SABC Africa, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in South Africa, reaching millions of African viewers. In conjunction with the broadcast, Robby gave several national TV, radio, and print interviews, including a live performance on South Africa’s popular e.TV “Sunrise” show in Johannesburg with an Indigenous African youth choir.
On International Mother Earth Day, April 22, Robby launched NCS’s latest campaign “Project Protect”. ”Project Protect” is an awareness campaign fighting for the rights of Mother Earth and all her children.
World Environment Day, June 5, 2012, marked the online Global premiere of “Who’s Gonna Save You”, the first in a series of music pictures from ETE in support of NCS’s “Project Protect” campaign. The “music picture” is a combination of music video and motion picture woven into a poetic call to consciousness for the restoration of life in balance. “Who’s Gonna Save You” celebrates the power of music and film to inspire, educate, and motivate audiences into awareness and action.
The music single “Who’s Gonna Save You” droped globally on 20 November 2012 on iTunes, Amazon, The ETE Village Store, and other leading music outlets.
Robby’s DELUXE EDITION of “Who’s Gonna Save You” dropped globally 21 December 2012 on iTunes. The DELUXE EDITION includes the music single and special edited music video for iTunes.
Up-coming releases include Robby’s highly anticipated “Native Rock: The Singles”, a unique limited collection of new live and digitally re-mastered singles never before released outside of Indian Country, and Dakota Romero’s self-titled debut. To capture the essence of Dakota’s multi-cultural background for this extraordinary debut release, Robby has been working with Dakota and Carlos Santana band member Karl Perazzo, as well as with renowned musicians Ray Obiedo, Marc & Paul van Wageningen, Steve Erquigua and David K. Mathews.