Articles/Information, Personal Experiences, Sports and Entertainment

Native Woman Crush Wednesday: Joanne Shenandoah


ShenandoahSinger, composer, actress, humanitarian, mother, and educator are just some of what make up the woman that is Joanne Shenandoah, of the Iroquois and Oneida Nation.

Having won over 40 music awards, Shenandoah has made her mark in the Native music industry as well as internationally. She has been known to perform at countless humanitarian events alongside, Peter Seeger, Willie Nelson, Bono, and many others. According to her biography she has now recorded 16 CD’s.

In recent years she performed at the Vatican, for the canonization of Saint Kateri Takekwitha. She has also continued to perform in multiple ways for her audiences. For environmental, spiritual, musical and historical reasons, Shenandoah travels across the country and as well as to Canada to participate in educational programs with her husband and daughter Leah.

Joanne-ShenandoahGrowing up, Joanne Shenandoah has impact me heavily in the more spiritual aspect of my life. As a little girl, my mother had introduced me to her album “Matriarch” and would play it for me to fall asleep, if I was ever upset, or just to enjoy something native and warm to play around the house. Little did my mother know that I would then carry around that cassette tape in my Sony Walkman for years playing, dancing and singing along to Shenandoah’s enchanting voice.

I was later able to see her perform at a small concert with family in Philadelphia where afterwards we were able to speak with her. I remember how starstruck and nervous I was when meeting her. Thinking about this memory now, I smile and then I realize the incredible impact that Shenandoah has on people, even toddlers, like I was when I first saw her perform.

Whenever I play the “Matriarch” album (on my iPod now), I immediately am taken to calm place and feel stronger than I was before I hit play. Below is the audio to one of her songs off the album:

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