Award winning Native American artist Joanne Shenandoah died November 22, 2021 in Scottsdale, Arizona as a result of complications from abdominal bleeding. She was 64. She was surrounded by family at the time of her death.
A matriarch of the Native American musical community, she was a member of the Wolf Clan of the Oneida Nation – one of the Haudenosaunee Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy.
One of the most celebrated artists in the Native American music community, Shenandoah is a 14 time Native American Music Award winner – the most of any artist – and has earned a NAMA Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also been inducted into the Syracuse Area Hall of Fame and was presented with an Honourary Doctorate of Music degree from Syracuse University.
She released her debut album in 1989 and has released over a dozen albums since that debut including her final album “Oh Shenandoah” earlier this year. She was one of the contributors to the Grammy Award winning album “Sacred Ground: A Tribute to Mother Earth”.
Along with appearing as an actress in the mini series “First Nations” and “The Last Winter”; Shenandoah’s music appeared in the video game “The Indian in the Cupboard”, “A Warrior in Two Worlds”, the documentaries “In the Shadow of the Crow: Legacies of the Narragansetts” and “Our Land, Our Life”, “American Outrage”, “Year of the Rat”, “Spirit Game” Pride of a Nation”, and “The Medicine Game”
Shenandoah performed solo and in a trio with her sister Diane and daughter Leah. Performing on stages all over the world, she has performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, Woodstock 94, and in Rome for the canonization of the first Native American Roman Catholic saint Kateri Tekakwitha. She has performed before U.S. presidents, the Dali Lama, and Nelson Mandela.
She was born on June 23, 1957 in Syracuse, New York the daughter of the Onondaga chief and an Oneida clan mother. She grew up on the Oneida reservation near Syracuse. The daughter of a Jazz guitarist, a young Joanne got an early start on her musical training but it would be many years later before she chose to make music her full time job. Prior to making music full time, she was a computer systems architectural engineer.
Shenandoah is survived by her husband Doug, daughter Leah, grandson Kieren, sisters Diane and Vicky, and nieces and nephews.
Joanne Shenandoah discography:
“Once in a Red Moon”
“Matriarch: Iroquois Women’s Songs”
“All Spirits Sing”
“Warrior in Two Worlds”
“Bitter Tears: Sacred Ground”
feature photo credit: NAMA1.jpg