January 13th, 2014 Last Updated on: January 13th, 2014
Interview by Dr. Dawn Karima, Music Editor
Q) It's great to visit with you and to discuss the meaning of your songs! When you describe your own music, how do you depict it?
A) Before writing music, I wrote poetry. Writing music and playing the flute is much like writing poetry. It comes from the heart and it's a way for me to share what I feel without the need for words.
Q) Do you experience any emotional shifts when you perform?
A) When performing, I am aware of my surroundings but at the same time, I concentrate on what I am playing at the moment. I am able to put my soul while performing because each song has a meaning to me. I am filled with love and support because I perform with my husband, Josh. He plays the acoustic guitar.
A) The richness of my heritage, Chachi-Cayapa (Ecuador) and Yoruba (Cuba), keeps me well grounded. I am of a multicultural background but the cultures are very similar in that the connection with my ancestors and Creator is important.
Q) Everybody starts somewhere, so please tell us about your musical start?
A) My first performance was during a pre-show of a drama production in Cherokee, N.C. I have never performed before a large audience so to say I was a nervous wreck is an understatement. That experience jump started my desire to perform again. I am myself when I perform because of the work and dedication that I put into it.
Q) If you defined Native Music for someone who had never heard it, what terms would you use?
A) Native music, particularly flute music, serves as a meditative outlet. In recent years, there has been an appreciation for Native music.
People are drawn to Native music because it bridges the gap between the modern and traditional world. I think it brings a sense of returning to what is most important, and that is the natural world rather than the material world.
Q)What do you think distinguishes a very strong song,a hit?
A)I think a song is successful when it is original, when people feel it in their heart and are able to interpret it in their own way. It becomes relevant in their lives.
Q)What is the importance of music in your life? To your tribe? To Native America?
A) Music equals family and love. I thank my parents for guiding me in the right path. My connection with my ancestors has become stronger since the passing of my father. My parents’ teachings have helped me to persevere without losing sight of who I am and appreciate those that have walked before me.
Q) When you play, what do you hope your audience will learn about themselves as they listen? What do you hope that they will discover about Native People and Culture?
A) I am proud, yet grateful that my music reflects the connection between North America and South America and that Native music does not end at the U.S. border. There are so may indigenous people/cultures in the Americas.
I am always appreciative when people tell me after listening to my music that I inspire them.
Q) Where can we hear your music or see a show? What can we expect from one of your CDs ? How can folks connect with you?
A) My music can be downloaded at http://jessicamartinezmaxey.bandcamp.com/ as well as Amazon and iTunes.
I can be found on my website at http://jessicamartinezmaxey.com/and on Youtube at
Q) What do you wish we knew about you that we don't already know?
One of the songs from my first album is a part of Putumayo's compilation called Native America. It will be released on February 2014. I am working on a third album.
Q) Mvto…thank you for your sharing with us! We sure do appreciate you!
A) Thank you for the interview, it is much appreciated!
Dr. Dawn Karima is the author of two novels, THE WAY WE MAKE SENSE and THE MARRIAGE OF SAINTS. She is a Women's Traditional Southern Cloth Dancer.
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