A local musician has been nominated for a Native American Music Award, which will be presented at the 2008 Nammy's in Niagara Falls.

Richard Stepp is one of six nominees for the Native Heart award to be announced Oct. 4 at the Native American Music Awards celebration in New York.

Stepp wrote his first song when he was 8 years old - “That was about 40 years ago,” he said.

Although life has taken him on many paths, his passion for music has not weakened throughout the years.

Eight years ago, he wrote his first Native American song, “Wounded Knee”, after visiting the 1890 massacre sight in South Dakota.

Stepp said Native American pride is evident in the folk ballad's he performs - many bearing historical significance.

“I started writing and performing Native American music because it has such a spiritual meaning,” Stepp said. “The one real purpose for my music is to honor Native Americans and to enlighten people on culture and spirit.”

The compilation of ballad's on his first CD make up “The Sacred Journey” for which he is being recognized at the 10th annual NAMA celebration.

Stepp said he waited anxiously as the list of nominees was downloaded last week.

“I was near the bottom of the very last category so I had a long wait,” Stepp said. “I finally saw my name and felt immediate relief. I'd done it.”

Stepp said the nomination validates everything he has put into making music.

“It justifies what I've been doing,” Stepp said. “It feels like I have completed a circle.”

This year, a host of entertainers will perform including Wayne Newton, Crystal Gayle, Bill Miller and The Doors John Densmore. Special tribute will be paid to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Rickey Medlock, The Village People's Felipe Rose, Redbone and Janice Marie Johnson of Taste of Honey.

On Sept. 16, Stepp will be performing his first hit, “The Buffalo and the Eagle” during the Tar Creek Convention.

For more information about Stepp and his music or to order his CD, visit his website at www.redbuffaloproductions.com.