Joanne Shenandoah

Matriarch: Iroquois Women's Songs

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Joanne Shenandoah's voice is silvery smooth, golden rich, and milky warm. According to Shenandoah, woman of the Iroquois served as spiritual advisors, political counselors, and healers -- placed in positions to temper the aggressive nature of the males. Matriarch is dedicated to members of Shenandoah's clan -- sisters, aunts, grandmothers -- and other key women of the Oneida. Her native language is strong on long vowels, smoother even than Hawaiian; the album is as soothing as a lullaby yet brisk with breathtaking vocal harmonies and catchy rhythms. Tom Wasinger's instrumentals on autoharp, resonating stones, bass, guitars, pianolin, and percussion cradle the lyrics as do the environmental sounds from grottoes and caverns. If you need to feel protected, nurtured, welcomed, prayed for, creative, and blessed, play this album.

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