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Chuck Billy to Appear in Smithsonian Exhibition

Paul Warner, Getty Images

Nothing — not even the Smithsonian — can deny the power of heavy metal and its value to popular culture. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indians exhibition is recognizing Testament singer and Native American activist Chuck Billy now through Jan. 2. This particular exhibit that Billy is a part of is called ‘Up Where We Belong: Native Americans in Popular Culture,’ and it is located on the National Mall, second-floor level of the Sealaska Gallery.

‘Up Where We Belong,’ according to the Smithsonian, “tells [Native artists’] stories and histories and provides visitors the opportunity to hear music and discover artists with whom these exceptional musicians collaborated. Visitors will also learn of the musical greats who inspired these artists, as well as the growing number of contemporary performers who follow in their path.”

Where does Billy factor in? The cancer survivor is featured in the ‘Encore’ segment of the exhibition, which features artists who represent the span of Native achievement in mainstream music over the past half century. Other musicians featured in this segment are saxophonist Jim Pepper and singer Debora Iyall, so not only is Billy in good company — but so are Pepper and Iyall.

In a statement, Billy said, “I’m humbled and proud to be recognized as a Native American contribution to the arts and music.”

Billy and Testament are currently ripping up the road on American Carnage alongside Megadeth and Slayer. The metal world certainly knows that Chuck Billy has made the metal world a better place and his fellow Native Americans should be proud of his body of work and his inclusion in such an important exhibit.


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