When speaking with 2016 Native American Artist of the Year Shelley Morningsong, the word “connectedness” is bound to come up. The reason is simple: A large part of what she and her husband, Fabian Fontenelle, seek to accomplish through their music revolves around bringing people together and helping to show the commonalities we all share.
Morningsong (N. Cheyenne/Dutch) and Fontenelle (Zuni/Omaha) collaborate to perform both traditional and contemporary Native American music, dance, song, storytelling, and drumming throughout the country to help tell the story of their Native American heritage.
“Our goal is always to touch people’s hearts with our music,” Morningsong says. “Each life is important, and it’s critical to understand how we can learn from each other even though we come from different places. … It’s amazing how much people don’t know about Native American Culture.”
After meeting in 2001 in the same touring group, Morningsong and Fontenelle now perform together year-round from coast to coast and beyond, embarking on a four-week trip to Bavaria for the past few summers.
The Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico duo has a connection with One Nation Walking Together, a local organization focused on improving the lives of Native Americans in the region, after meeting organizers at an event in Denver. Later, impressed with ONWT, Mornigsong wrote and performed the organization’s theme song.
“Shelley and Fabian are two of the most kind-hearted people you will ever meet,” says Laura Chickering, ONWT’s development director. “We can’t thank them enough for being ambassadors of One Nation Walking Together.”
The duo will be one of many performers at the 2017 Artini, the free Arts Month kickoff party hosted at the Mansion by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region on Sept. 29, followed by a stop at Vista Grande Community Church (5460 N. Union Blvd.) Sept. 30.
While audiences can expect the traditional side of their performance, the more contemporary musical style they also perform allows the messages they want to convey to reach a broader audience.
“There’s something for everyone in our shows,” Morningsong says.
Originally written by Jonathan Toman of the Cultural Office and published in the Colorado Springs Independent Abstractions section on September 27, 2017.