Ms. Henry is both dekanogisgi (traditional song-carrier) and hahesh’kah (lead drummer), and a Native Women’s Traditional dancer. Encouraged by her elders, she founded acclaimed traditional drum group Mothers of Nations Singers & Dancers – the first women’s drum ever invited to the National Native American Veterans Powwow in Washington DC and the first to preside at the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Opening Ceremonies for the United Nations – where she has since spoken on healing & spirituality among First Nations women and offered opening prayers & song for the International Day of Peace and the World Indigenous Forum. Her collaborations with Okla-Choctaw artist Jeffrey Gibson have ranged from filling the New Museum with 50 drummers clad in his compelling designs to taking over Times Square‘s Midnight Moment with traditional jungle dress dancer Sarah Ortegon – two days before coronavirus shut Broadway down. Most recently, she was honored to conduct a simple water ceremony globally for World Unity Week.
For her, Water Day is every day.
When her theatrical career and traditional commitments don’t keep her on the move – whether styling solo, with SPIRITED, or with fellow drummers of the Percussion Orchestra Of Kingston – Ms. Henry teaches, presents and consults at schools, universities and museums from Vassar College to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in New York City; works with women & youth in indigenous communities in the US & Canada; burns excess energy teaching dance, Zumba Fitness and DXF – Dance Xross Fitness; and finds herself constantly exploring some new musical edge. A past director of youth empowerment and arts-in-healing programs in upstate New York, she is generally surrounded by youth of all ages…
Joan Henry and her family make their home in the mountains of the Northern Catskills, where they welcome this season’s Thunders. It is her prayer that she honors Tsimilano & Qwat’xwu’maat of Musqueam, Shanadii of Jicarilla, her own Grandmas Kathleen Elicia & Valentine Mabel, and the many other elders who have guided her, by continuing “to sing our world new every morning – and sing it to sleep each night. And sing for our waters. Always.”