Artist Profiles: Joanne Shenandoah

Joanne Shenandoah

Joanne Shenandoah is a Wolf Clan member of the Oneida Nation — Iroquois Confederacy. She is the daughter of Maisie Shenandoah, a Clanmother and the late Clifford Shenandoah, an Onondaga chief and jazz guitarist.

Her parents had a deep love for music encouraging Joanne to study voice flute piano clarinet guitar and cello. Joanne’s talent combined with her beautiful clear voice enables her to embellish the ancients’ songs of the Iroquois using a blend of traditional and contemporary instrumentation.

After spending 14 years as a computer programmer and consultant in Washington DC, Shenandoah became close with the tribal elders and her extended family who reacquainted her with the stories and songs of her people which prompted a personal artistic reawakening in 1989. Since then Joanne Shenandoah has won several musical achievement awards most recently she received “Best Female Artist” at both the 1999 and 1998 Native American Music Awards and in 1997 she was recognized as a “Native American Woman of Hope.”

Joanne Shenandoah’s music has been featured on the popular TV series “Northern Exposure”. She has appeared with Jackson Browne, Rita Coolidge and Willie Nelson and at the White House for Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore.

On May 12, 2002 she was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Music at Syracuse University’s (Syracuse New York) 148th commencement. The award is the first of its kind ever presented to a Native musician at an American university.

In 2003 she was a guest artist on the album Sisters (Oneida Hymns) with Maisie Shenandoah and Liz Robert.

In 2005 she appeared on the album Sacred Ground, a Tribute to Mother Earth. The album is a compilation by Katahdin Productions that features all new recordings by celebrated stars in the genre. She delivers both a traditional spirit and contemporary style on “Seeking Light”. She is also featured on the final track Mother Earth joining Walela for the anthem that was used in the award-winning documentary Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action. The film takes an in-depth look at the environmental hazards threatening Native American reservations.

Discography:

Joanne Shenandoah” (Canyon Records, 1989)
Once in a Red Moon” (Canyon Records, 1994)
Life Blood” (Silver Wave, 1995)
Matriarch: Iroquois Women’s Songs” (Silver Wave, 1996)
“All Spirits Sing” (Rhino Records, 1997)
Orenda” (Silver Wave, 1998)
“Peacemaker’s Journey” (Silver Wave, 2000)
Warrior In Two Worlds” (Red Feather, 2000)
Eagle Cries” (Red Feather, 2001)
“Covenant” (Silver Wave, 2003)
Sisters: Oneida Iroquois Hymns” (Silver Wave, 2003)
Skywoman” (Silver Wave, 2005)
Loving Ways” (Canyon Records, 2005)
Bitter Tears Sacred Ground” (Hondo Mesa Records, 2005)
Enchanted Garden” (Joanne Shenandoah , 2005)
Lifegivers” ( Silver Wave, 2011)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.
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