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Concert of culture
The sound of loud drumbeats, words of an impassioned rap artist and the rhythmic dances of the Native American culture will come together at ShopColumbia’s inaugural performance series “ShopColumbia Presents.”
With the help of ShopColumbia and two Entertainment marketing classes of AEMM professor Rose Pritchett, the award-winning hip-hop group Nake Nula Waun and professional hoop dancer Samsoche Sampson will display their talents and immerse students in Native American traditions.
“The dances, music and overall message will show people how today we as Native Americans are blending our culture and showing our pride with contemporary forms of art, music and dance,” said Frank Waln, audio arts and acoustics major and lead vocalist of Nake Nula Waun.
March 21 concert will showcase tracks from the band’s albums “Scars and Bars” and “The Definition.” Sampson and his brother created a spoken-word piece that will be performed in homage to their father, Will Sampson, the actor who played Chief Bromden in the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
“[My father] was the first actor that broke stereotypes of Native American actors,” Sampson said. “He played a contemporary Native American on screen, not that typical ‘Hollywood Indian.’”
Sampson, who is part of the Seneca tribe in upstate New York, will be performing traditional Native American hoop dances, during which he uses up to 16 rings while in his Regalia, a hand-crafted costume made of beads, feathers and fabric.
Sampson, who is a fine arts major at Columbia, said dancers choose their own colors according to their tribe and what they want to represent. He chose a dark green base color and contrasting floral colors. He said with woodland tribes, a lot more floral and organic designs are used, and as you go out west, the designs become more geometric.
Waln, who is from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, said his bandmates will be coming to Chicago for the first time in their lives.
“We’re lucky because the department of Multicultural Affairs sponsored the concert, which has made it possible for the rest of the members to come into town,” Waln said. “They don’t know what to expect because we are coming from a whole different world.”
Since The Chronicle last interviewed Waln in October 2011, the band has been busy performing, recording new tracks and creating a documentary about the formation of the group and growing up on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. They have won numerous awards, including “RockWired Radio Artist of the Month and received a handful of nominations at the Native American Music Awards last November.
They will head to Syracuse, N.Y., in April to perform at a suicide prevention event. Currently, the band is producing its third album, which is inspired by the Medicine Wheel’s four colors—red, yellow, black and white.
“This concert series is designed to create opportunities for ShopColumbia musicians to build an audience and sell their work,” said Shannon Bourne, operations coordinator at ShopColumbia. “We chose Frank because he is so talented, driven and organized.”
The concert will also give students a chance to try Native American cuisine, such as fry bread and mutton soup, prepared by the American Indian Center.
Senior Iva Hollmon and freshman Nichole Boles, two of the AEMM students involved in the event, said the production has given them real-world experience.
“We have learned how to interact with the client and respect different things that the client presents,” Hollmon said. “We want to integrate more of [these projects] in the AEMM Department. The school has so many different platforms, and this one will be an eye-opener.”
Waln said the college’s support has made him believe in himself more as an artist and hopes the audience will leave knowing more about Native American culture and that it still exists in today’s society.
“We are defying a lot of the stereotypes of Native Americans because we are in college and are entertainers,” he said. “With this concert and our work, we are blending traditional influences with contemporary sound and doing it in a way that makes it universal.”
ShopColumbia Presents: Nake Nula Waun is a free event and open to the public. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the concert begins at 7p.m. A meet-and-greet and photo opportunity with the performers will be at 8 p.m.