Music fest celebrates Native music, art

By Alexis Prine
Staff Writer

Photo by Gabrielle Harris
Musicians at the River People Music and Culture Fest perform a Native song on Jan. 20 in GPAC.

On Jan. 20 several Native American artists joined at GPAC for a night of music, fun and celebration at the 2011 River People Music and Culture Fest. Headlining for the event was the national Native American artist Jana Mashonee Dark Water Rising and Pura Fe Trio.

According to Tasha Oxendine, director of Marketing at GPAC, approximately 1,300 people packed into GPAC to listen to the Native music and feast their eyes on the art displayed throughout the night.

Mashonee is a seven time NAMMY (Native American Music Awards) award winner, with hits such as "A Change is Gonna Come," "Carousel," and "The Enlightened Time."

Also appearing on stage was Cody Blackbird and The Deer Clan Singers.

Lakota John and his sister Layla Locklear also performed. John and Locklear are Robeson County natives. John is a 13-year-old blues singer who just released his first album.

Locklear is a freshman at UNCP and currently majors in Environment Science and American Indian Studies.

Amidst all of the singing and dancing, local Willie Lowery was honored with the River People Festival Cultural Treasure Award for his life-long involvement with Native American music, education and being a role model for the local Lumbee Indian youth.

He was also the founding Director of Creative Arts for the Center of Arts in Pembroke. The Lumbee Tribe proclaimed Jan. 21 to be Willie Lowery day.

There was a collection of Native American artwork on display in GPAC on Jan. 21 by a local artist, Jessica Clark. Her artwork is currently still on display in the lobby of GPAC.