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Press Room

10/7/2002

Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery Hosts Ulali, a Native American A Cappella Group

Contact: Amy Mannarino
MannarinoA[at]si.edu
Media only: (202) 275-1592


On Sunday, Oct. 27, from noon to 2 p.m., the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery will host Ulali as part of a free Native American Music Series.

In association with the special exhibition "George Catlin and His Indian Gallery," on view at the Renwick through Jan. 19, 2003, the Smithsonian American Art Museum is promoting a series of free concerts devoted to various types of Native American music. Ulali is a three-woman a cappella group that blends traditional Native American songs with its own modern style. The women have appeared at the Sundance Film Festival, on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," at the Olympics and with artists such as Bonnie Raitt and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Founded 15 years ago, Ulali is one of the first Native American women's group to create their own sound from their strong traditional roots and personal contemporary styles. The group is composed of Pura Fé (Tuscarora), Soni (Mayan, Apache, Yaqui) and Jennifer (Tuscarora). They have contributed to a new genre of Native American music and inspired the creation of other Native American women's groups. Known for their unusual harmonies and wide vocal and musical range, Ulali presents an array of indigenous music with elements of Southeast choral singing and even pre-Columbian music. Their live performances, which uniquely address Native struggles and accomplishments, are energetic, informative and educational.

Ulali has performed extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad at venues such as the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, the 1997 Smithsonian Folkways 50th Anniversary Gala at Carnegie Hall, Woodstock 1994, the Kennedy Center, the 1998 and 2001 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the 1999 World Festival of Sacred Music at the Hollywood Bowl and the Britt Festival 2000 in Oregon. Ulali is active throughout Indian country (in the United States, Canada, Central and South America) visiting communities, singing for the people, exchanging songs and maintaining strong ties.

The women added their distinct voices to the Indigo Girls recording "Shaming the Sun," and opened for and performed with them in several cities in 1997. Ulali was featured on the Miramax film soundtrack "Smoke Signals." They performed at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival in support of "Smoke Signals," which won the "Audience Choice Award" and "Filmmaker's Trophy." Ulali recorded on the soundtrack for the documentary series "The Native Americans," and two of the songs, "Mahk Jchi" and "Ancestor Song," were featured on Robbie Robertson's album "Robbie Robertson and the Red Road Ensemble." Ulali made their national television debut when they performed with Robertson as featured guests on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Ulali has shared billing with Buffy Saint Marie, Floyd Westerman, Miriam Mekeba, John Trudell, the American Indian Dance Theatre, Sting, Richie Havens, the B-52's, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Neville Brothers.

The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W., near the Farragut North (Red line) and Farragut West (Blue and Orange lines) Metrorail stations. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. except Dec. 25. Admission is free. Public information: (202) 357-2700; (202) 357-1729 (TTY); (202) 633-9126 (Spanish). Recorded information: (202) 275-1500. Web site: AmericanArt.si.edu.