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About Joan2018-06-17T22:20:37+00:00

Songs Thread the People Together

As a teen I remember elders coming and looking for me, as if they were expecting me.
They would say: “that one, the little one with the voice”

My folks have told me I have been singing my whole life.

From the time I was very small, no matter what I was doing or feeling, I sang it out. That’s what they tell me. I can remember jumping up in a first grade classroom and singing out because I saw my mother out in the hallway, looking in. So no matter if I was happy or sad, whatever I was doing I sang it out. I remember hearing songs in the leaves of the trees, and singing along or singing back to them as I hid with my bow waiting to pounce on unsuspecting people below.

My grandmother recognized me right away, and she said I would be a singer. As a teen I remember elders coming and looking for me, as if they were expecting me. They would say: “that one, the little one with the voice”. It seemed like I never really had friends my own age because I was always hanging out with the adults. Folks would sing songs to me, and then ask me to sing them back to them, and that’s how I learned. To me, I was just hanging out with these elders, and it was awhile before I realized they were teaching me all these songs. We just sang together. When I think about it, that’s the heart of oral tradition, because it isn’t possible to communicate pitch, tone, sound, timbre, resonance, feeling, or intention on flat paper.

Through song they were teaching me moments, experiences, an environment that is spherical, vibrational— not static. They were waking up my original memory, the knowledge in my cells of experiencing Mother Earth all around us, of experiencing my relationship with everything that is alive. And make no mistake: everything is alive – and everything sings.

Everything has a song.

Where I’ve come to is the place of carrying these songs in a good way, so that they can be sung whenever they are needed. That’s what Kanogisgidekanogisgi, more accurately – or “Song Carrier” means. A singer becomes responsible to wherever a song is from and means you have to be available when that song needs to be sung. A lot of elders put a lot of time and energy into me; I am responsible to honor that, to carry that. More and more it seems that I’ve come to a place now of focusing on moving songs out into the world, and listening for the ones that  are emerging at this time, in order to bring them forth, eh? –because the songs thread the people together, to one another and to the Earth, re-member-ing or reminding us of our integral interrelatedness. Songs make a living web

Joan Henry Interview