‘Musical Matriarch’ Joanne Shenandoah passes on

Oneida Nation, Wolf Clan artist and GRAMMY award winning musician and activist Joanne Shenandoah passed away on Monday.

The Native American Music Awards released a statement following the news of her passing, saying Shenandoah died at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona following complications of abdominal bleeding and suffering a cardiac arrest.

“Joanne’s beautiful embellishing voice, strong Iroquois traditions, unequivocal elegance and courteous grace made her a prominent role model and highly respected musical Matriarch among Native American communities as well as the mainstream music community at large. She sang with deep roots from her ancestors and flawlessly incorporated her oral traditions into contemporary Folk, Country and Americana formats,” said NAMA. “She captured the hearts of audiences all over the world and always took time to encourage and inspire younger musicians in her travels. She made an incredible impact on this earth and has paved paths for so many.  The Native American Music Awards will continue to best ensure and preserve her legacy.  She will be greatly missed.”

Shenandoah recorded 15 albums in the 50 years that she shared her talents with the world. She received 14 NAMA Awards, received a GRAMMY and two GRAMMY nominations. She was also nominated for an Emmy Award for the PBS Special “Native America” and is an inductee to the Syracuse Area Hall of Fame.

She also was granted an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Syracuse University in 2002. She was an original board member for the Hiawatha Institute for Indigenous Knowledge at Syracuse University.

Shenandoah leaves behind her husband Doug, daughter Leah, grandson Kieren Ryder, sisters Diane and Vicky along with numerous nieces and nephews. She was 63.

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