Joanne Shenandoah Obituary, Death – Joanne Shenandoah, an Oneida Nation member and singer-songwriter, died Nov. 22 in a Scottsdale, Arizona, hospital. Aged 64.
Her spouse, Doug George-Kanentiio, blamed liver failure-related internal hemorrhage. She recovered from a 2016 liver illness. Her husband stated the Mayo Clinic couldn’t find the source of her liver ailment this year, but it wasn’t alcohol abuse or hepatitis. Ms. Shenandoah was raised in central New York in Oneida territory by her father, an Onondaga leader, and her mother, a Wolf clan Oneida. Tekaliwhakwah, meaning “she sings,” was her childhood name.
Ms. Shenandoah ran a computer consulting firm in Washington for a decade before starting her music career. She told the Associated Press in 1997 that she was working hard and doing all the things she believed were essential. “I was looking out my office window. When this large tree was taken down, I thought, “What am I doing with my life here?”
Ms. Shenandoah performed 200 gigs a year with her sister and daughter as support vocalists. Her records sold millions abroad. Her airy, soaring voice was accompanied by contemporary equipment and an electronic, techno feel. Nature, ladies, and Iroquois culture inspired her songs. “In all of her music, her voice is always very much an expression of what the Iroquois refer to as ‘the good mind,’” Colgate University Native American studies researcher Christopher Vecsey told NPR in 2000.
Ms. Shenandoah immediately became popular outside Native American music. She performed at the White House and presidential inaugurations under Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.