Joanne Shenandoah,
Peace & Power:
The Best of Joanne Shenandoah

(Silver Wave, 2002)

Joanne Shenandoah is called "the Native American Enya." This beautiful lady has the voice of an angel. If you have never heard her music, by all means, buy a copy of Peace & Power right away. It is a collection of Joanne's best-loved songs from four other CDs: Peacemaker's Journey, Orenda, Matriarch and Life Blood.

This lady has a most impressive list of awards: eight-time NAMMY winner (including Best Female Artist twice), Best Traditional Recording for Orenda, GRAMMY nominee for Peacemaker's Journey and Best Native American Recording from INDIE twice, for Matriarch and Peacemaker's Journey. Imagine that Peace & Power brings you the very best of these award-winning recordings. You already know it has to be an exceptional CD!

Most of the 14 songs in this collection are traditional chants, with the three songs from Peacemaker's Journey written by Joanne. All the pieces are strong on the vocals and light on the music. The music is soft and complements the vocals instead of overpowering them. The backup singers (Joanne's daughter, Leah, and her sister, Diane) are excellent. They blend exceptionally well with Joanne to produce a beautiful, multi-layered chant. When they perform an echo effect, you will get chills. This is one talented family!

The flute is wonderful, light and airy. It actually sounds like a Native American flute instead of a synthesizer. The "shells and bells" are fantastic, too.

My favorite of this collection, if I could pick just one, would be either "When Eyes Meet" or "Kaluhyanu: Wes." But I loved every single song and quickly found myself singing along during the first playing. (Yes. I did listen to the entire CD seven times before beginning this review. It has that effect on you.) The songs will lift your stress and carry it away. You will feel tired muscles relax. The longer you listen, the more at peace with the world you will become. There is simply no way to listen to this CD and remain uptight. It is so soothing.

The 20-page booklet included with the CD tells Joanne's story in her own words and the words of her daughter, Leah. You will learn that her Oneida name is "Tekariwhakwah," which means "She Sings." Her family, clan and tribe knew she would be a singer and musician. Her story will thrill you. In spring 2002, she was awarded an honorary doctorate of music by Syracuse University and gave the graduation speech, which is included in this booklet. It is powerfully moving, reminiscent of the speeches given by Chief Joseph. I wish everyone could own a copy of this speech and take the message to heart. The world would be a much better place.

I urge you to purchase a copy of this CD today. It is the best Native American music to be found. Most importantly, Joanne Shenandoah carries the traditions of her ancestors forward to the next generation. In a time of dissolving culture, this is vital! We need more Native American performers to document tradition before it is lost. I commend this wonderful woman for doing so.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 1 March 2003

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