Plus …Minneapolis pow wow singer shines spotlight on Indigenous art form.
Temperatures in the Twin Cities are set to take another plunge to dangerous cold. Clouds this morning give way to sun this afternoon. Low temperatures below zero.
Minneapolis pow wow singer shines spotlight on Indigenous art form
At the Cedar Cultural Center on the U’s West Bank, Ojibwe culture is taking center stage.
Joe Rainey is rehearsing for one of his first shows in his hometown, which will showcase both his musical evolution, as well as his indigenous roots.
“Growing up in Minneapolis is the foundation of who I am and what I do. Getting to come back to my home neighborhood and perform something I created in private with my friend, it’s really special for me to perform it for the people who most likely saw me grow up here in the neighborhood,” said Rainey.
Rainey’s style of singing is tied to the traditions of Native American pow wows, but its sonic backdrop is much more modern.
His wordless melodies sound as ancient as his people, but instead of being accompanied by a drum circle, his vocals float on a bed of synthesized rhythms, samples of old pow wow audio recordings, and almost cinematic string arrangements.
“Unique. In its own lane. I know it’s been described as avant-garde. I don’t think there is any word in Ojibwe to describe what avant-garde is,” said Rainey.
Rainey grew up surrounded by pow wow singers just a few blocks from the American Indian Cultural Corridor on Franklin Avenue in South Minneapolis.
Being a member of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, he started singing in several drum groups over the years and eventually traveled to compete in pow wows across the country.
“Some people think it’s difficult for an urban Indian to survive here with less culture at their fingertips, but I think pow wow is a great way to really step into your culture and take hold of your spirituality at the beginning of it,” said Rainey.
While singing with one of those groups, Rainey crossed paths with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver at the Eaux Claires Music Festival in Wisconsin.
The two bonded over Rainey’s library of 100s of pow wows he’s been recording since he was 8, and he eventually got to sing what he calls ‘Native American riffs’ on tracks by Bon Iver and Chance The Rapper.
“That was the start of having those pinch myself moments of when I had to think about what I’m doing and how big an impact I’m having. It might be quiet at first, but I’m on a different trajectory,” said Rainey.
Rainey’s experience with Vernon prompted him to create his first album, Niineta, which was released last summer and means “just me” in Ojibwe, with Minneapolis producer Andrew Broder.
Rainey says the project was an opportunity to stretch his creative muscles while introducing pow-wow music to a new audience.
“Teaching people about the song form and why they are hearing the same thing over and over. There’s a reason for that. There’s also a reason for explaining that I’m not saying anything in the album. I’m not saying words. There’s no language in it at all except in the title. So there’s some knowledge to be gained there about pow wow singing,” said Rainey.
For his show at the Cedar, Rainey played with a string quartet, Owls, live for the first time.
“We wanted to make this very emotional for the listener. Even for the people who listen to it and throw it away, that’s cool with us. We wanted it to resonate with people it has resonated with. That was the only intention we had finishing the album with the samples and live strings and developing the whole vision that Broder had,” said Rainey.
Rainey says increasing representation of indigenous artists in media and pop culture is another benefit of his work.
He hopes it inspires other Native American young people to follow in his footsteps while preserving the history of his favorite art form for generations to come.
“Creating the album and what it means. Don’t be afraid to step outside that box. That’s always a phrase. Someone has to do the act of stepping out of the box and that is what I’m doing and this is what I’m doing it with,” said Rainey.
Catch Up Quick
❄️Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog, awoke Thursday morning and saw his shadow — which, according to folklore, means there will be six more weeks of winter.
📱 The artificial intelligence application, ChatGPT, attended law school at the University of Minnesota and passed all four final exams it took, but it didn’t ace them. The chatbot finished behind all or most of the humans who took the same tests, but it did well enough for professors to wonder whether an improved version might displace some future lawyers.
⚾ The Minnesota Twins have begun to renovate Target Field including an addition of a new scoreboard and all new screens.
Group fights to save Maplewood community garden
Community members say there’s a hidden gem underneath a blanket of snow on two and a half acres of land in Maplewood. But it has an uncertain future.
“We have many food insecure families in this area, we stand to lose a space for them where they can grow food,” Sherry Sanders said. “It’s about ending hunger for many people.”
For years, the garden Sherry Sanders helped create has grown food to grace the plates of about 1,000 people.
“It generates food for maybe 50 days of the year,” garden founder Ron Peterson added.
But the space is about more than just food, it also bolsters community; a tightly-knit community that’s evolved into a melting pot of different cultures, “There’s like 12 different languages spoken in the garden,” Peterson continued. The land is divided into 260 plots, each rented out for $20, for people to grow healthy food.
Only now the gardeners fear their growing season could be coming to an end. St. Paul Regional Water Services owns the entire 9-acre property. It was purchased in 2014 for $2.5 million. But the organization’s plans for the land quickly fell through, and now they have no use for it.
Since 2017 it’s been leased out for gardening. But now gardeners fear a developer may soon buy it out from underneath them. Before that happens, they’ve set out to raise $1 million for the 2 and a half acres of land.
Already they say they have a pledge of $300,000. “We’re also applying for a grant from different organizations,” Peterson said.
Next, the group plans to plead its case at the next Board of Water commissioners meeting on Feb. 14.
The public utility tells FOX 9 it doesn’t have any bids on the land and is not currently talking to any developers or listing the property. But at any time, for the right price, that could change.
Twin Cities will soon have its first hair braiding school
The Metro will soon have its first hair braiding school, created out of a need two business owners saw in the beauty industry.
Hair braiding is an art form passed down between generations of families. But two business owners in Minneapolis, who are both African-American women, believe the beauty industry needs to have more of a role in teaching the skill.
For two decades, Afolakemi Lawani has been perfecting the craft of hair braiding. She owns Bonita’s Extensions and Braids near Lyndale and 25th.
“That is the bulk of what we do. We are here to serve the underserved,” Lawani said.
But when she first became a student of hair 20 years ago, this single mom and business owner saw a gap in the beauty industry.
“When I was in school, a lot of the teachers could not braid hair,” Lawani said.
Lawani and her family friend Lilian Anderson knew they needed to fill the gap together.
“I’m from Cameroon, and she’s from Nigeria. Just us working together – not just Black women, but immigrants. And then at the same time, she’s my daughter from another mother,” Anderson said.
They each have their own natural hair businesses, but their bond is so strong that they’re combining them into one business, which will be in Uptown. The Natural Hair Care Institute will be the first of its kind in the Metro.
“Us being the first hair braiding and natural hair care school — it’s more of a trailblazing. We’ve literally opened a trail where others can really come and follow,” Lawani said.
The Board of Cosmetology does not license hair braiders or hair braiding schools due to a legislative change.
When Lawani and Anderson first got the vision for the school three years ago, they were essentially starting from scratch. That made this year even more momentous when their vocational school officially became licensed through Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education.
“(Lawani) called me, and oh my gosh, I put my knees on the ground and I started weeping,” Anderson said.
They hope to provide an alternative to college and give high school dropouts an opportunity, similar to a trade school. Their goal is to create a school based on inclusivity.
“Can I teach a white person how to braid hair? Can I teach a Black person how to braid hair? Can a white person come into a Black salon and not feel uncomfortable?” Lawani said.
As entrepreneurs themselves, they will offer students jobs or give them the tools on how to open their own shops and support their families.
“I’m an immigrant from Africa, and I came here and I did it. They can do much more than I can,” Lawani said.
The school is set to open in March. The next step will be getting accreditation in two years.
There is a hair braiding school in Rochester that opened last year, but the Natural Hair Care Institute would be the first in the Twin Cities.
To manage your preferences or unsubscribe, click here.
FOX 9 11358 Viking Dr. Eden Prairie, MN 55344