Jana Mashonee, Live In Concert
January was a big month for me. The seventh was my 28th wedding anniversary, the next day was Elvis' birthday and the twentieth I saw Jana Mashonee live in concert.
The Givens Preforming Arts Center at UNC-Pembroke is a 1600 seat auditorium just across the railroad tracks in Pembroke, NC. I pointed the T-Bird north Thursday afternoon and walked into the lobby a little over two hours later and 15 minutes before the box office opened at six. There were about thirty or forty people milling about and since the seating is first come, first served I got in line at the left hand door. I stood there alone for a while and then people began to form a line behind me for the thirty minute wait.
I struck up a conversation with a couple in their seventies who were behind me. The lady told me that about seven thousand students attend the college and that they had put three children through the school. She was amazed that I had driven two hours for the show by myself.
As I stood in line, I watched as an older man walked around us and through the doors toward the stage. His left hand had a very pronounced palsy shake.
At six-thirty the doors opened and I was the first guy through the door. I planted my butt into the center aisle seat on the front row and waited another half hour. The place slowly filled up and I read over the program. There would be three acts, an intermission and then Jana. I saw the same older gentleman with the shaky left hand walking around the stage, checking things out.
John Scott Richardson was the master of ceremonies and he got things off to a smooth start introducing the first three acts. Then instead of going into the intermission, he got the crowd excited and brought out Jana. The difference was palpable.
If you have not seen the video "The Enlightened Time" do yourself a favor and take the time to watch it.
The video started on a huge background screen with the band playing the music. Then from a darkened area of the stage Jana walked out playing a flute. As I listened to the vocals of this song I realized that she was perfectly synchronized with the vocals on the big screen. Amazing performance!
After the first song, the applause was like a tidal wave; it seemed to swell from the back and wash over the whole place! She introduced herself and praised the artists who had been on the stage before her.
How do I describe Jana Mashonee's voice?
Elvis was quoted describing Canadian Ann Murray as having the "clearest" vocals he ever heard. He never listened to Jana Mashonee. Her voice is clear, it's pure, and it's powerful without being over powering. The notes she hit were laser accurate. She mixed up the play list on the program. I have heard all the songs before and she never missed a single note. There were no back up singers with Jana for this performance and while the polished versions on the CD New Moon Born are outstanding, hearing her sing the songs solo clearly demonstrated her ability to command the stage.
Photography and video recording was prohibited at the concert. No one else paid any attention to that rule so here are some of the pictures I took.
I have joked before about being the old white guy who stalks Jana on the Internet. Sitting in the front row made me a little uncomfortable at times. Even with the lights in the auditorium low, I believed she could see me. Somehow, taking picture after picture seemed like a violation of her personal space so I took only a few. I guess I'll give up my dream of becoming a paparazzi!
Micco Sampson danced during some of the songs. His costume was colorful; his dancing a graceful mixture of traditional Native American movements with a decided modern flair.
Jana moved around the stage, danced with Micco and seemed to enjoy herself during the performance. There were some kids on the front row to my left and she made personal contact with them while never missing a beat.
Jana introduced the song "A Change is Gonna Come" by saying that it had been sort of a political song and then pointed out "We're all one people, we are all one tribe." The video played on the screen while she sang and again she nailed it. I led the standing ovation for that one.
Jana took a brief interlude to thank some of the folks who were local sponsors and I have sent a thank you through Facebook to one. Ralph Thomas at Indianvillagemall.com is a huge supporter of Jana and was listed on the program as a Festival Sponsor. Because of him and all the other sponsors, I was able to enjoy this event for ten bucks! Thanks again, Ralph. Everyone had a great time.
After another couple of songs, Jana got everyone up on their feet for her finale. Micco came out and did this awesome dance with about fifty hula hoops! I have never seen anything like it! Too quickly, Jana's part of the show was over.
In the lobby, I found about 100 people waiting in line to buy one of Jana's CDs even though she was not there signing autographs. There were no copies of her book on the table and I was disappointed. Rather than wait in line, I went back to my seat.
Dark Water Rising was up next and I listened to them for about ten minutes. Great band and some really exceptional harmony. I felt bad to sneak out but decided to go get a CD while most people were watching the show. When I got to the lobby Jana was at the table signing autographs and they had the book. I grabbed one, paid for it, and got in line.
"Hey, Jana. I'm Ronnie from Facebook," I said knowing that I was one of almost nine thousand people who are Facebook friends with her.
She smiled, turned to Stephan Galfas. " Hey Stephan,” she said. “This is Ronnie Sowell from Facebook."
She just finished singing for a sold out auditorium with sixteen hundred seats, signed at least a couple of hundred autographs, talked to hundreds of fans and then remembered my last name from Facebook! My mind was still reeling from this when the volunteer took our picture thus the "Tom & Jerry" look in my eyes. LOL!
Jana signed my book and I asked that Stephan sign it as well since he co-wrote it. He did and then I got my picture taken with Micco. Most people were inside listening to the concert and I decided to get the American Indian Story CD because I didn't have it.
I was able to speak briefly with Jana and Stephan about my almost successful plan to bring them to USC-Lancaster in April. I hate scheduling conflicts and told them I had not given up. I haven't.
The show ended and a presentation was made honoring Willie French Lowery with the River People Festival Cultural Treasure Award. Mr. Lowery has written and published over 250 songs, recorded 7 albums and had a #1 pop hit "Streets of Gold." He was the man I saw when I first arrived that had the shaky left hand.
The presentation was made, Mr. Lowery made a short speech. He is eighty something years old, I believe.
"Can we do a little song?" He asked.
To say I was shocked to see him grab a guitar is an understatement. He played a couple of his songs and a few you might not expect: Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones, Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye, Steam and something by the Eagles. All the acts joined him on stage and several of the ladies shared a mike with him. I wondered what had happened to Jana. I eventually saw her standing at the rear of the stage singing background vocals.
Several things stand out about this experience:
I am not one of those guys who resent or dislike strong, beautiful and intelligent women. I have been married to one for 28 years! My first impressions of Jana Mashonee is that she also fits that description.
She exudes calmness, grace and humility. She genuinely cares about children and went out of her way to acknowledge the ones at the concert. She was nice to her fans, answered their questions and let them take pictures with her. She stayed in the background while Mr. Lowery played making sure she didn’t steal his spotlight.
Mr. Lowery asked how many Indians were in the audience and everyone in the place yelled....except me. If I were going for the obvious joke here I would say that my scalp tingled. It didn’t. I felt absolutely safe. I never witnessed a rude action or heard a insulting comment while I was at the GPAC.
I think back to her words: “We are all one people. We are all one tribe.”
I don’t think she was speaking specifically about the many tribes represented there. She was talking about the world.
Imagine the world we would live in if everyone felt that way.
We are all one tribe.
Short Stories by R. E. Sowell
- White Buffalo, A Short Story
- Steve Eaglefeather, An Introduction
- The Night the Klan Ran, A Short Story
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