A Native Musician in Paris: Pura Fé Cuts a New Album With French Musicians

The American Indian performer known for her work in the blues, Native American, and other musical styles, discusses her current and future projects.

In November, musician and singer Pura Fé Antonia Crescioni performed with 12 other musicians in a concert celebrating the launch of Nueva Onda Records at the Trianon Theater in Paris. In January, she will release her eighth album, Sacred Seed, on the Nueva Onda label. 

Though she is well known to the French public, having received the prestigious award Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros award in 2006, Sacred Seed represents her first time recording an album with French musicians, in France.

She will be giving a solo concert in Paris, in February, at the Alhambra theater, and will tour all over France, and Europe, in 2015. Paris-based ICTMN correspondent Dominique Godreche spoke with the accomplished performer shortly after her performance at the Trianon Theater.

What is your family heritage?

I am Taino through my father, a Native of Puerto Rico, and Tuscarora by my mother; I grew up in New York, with my mother and my grandparents, who were from North Carolina. My mother has six sisters, who all sang. So I am a self taught musician. I learned from the family. In New York, I attended the Lincoln Square Academy, a school for young people in the arts. My family was urban, but we were part of the Native community; I used to work at the American Indian Community House, and I grew up with traditions at home. I am fifty five years old, and have been living the other half of my life in North Carolina, where I give workshops for the grassroots communities and work with women. We sew, weave, bead, sing, make baskets. We practice our cultural heritage. 

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What's been your biggest musical influence?

My family! Music is my first language—my mother sang with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, my grandmother sang gospels, and Indian music. I have been listening to all kinds of music. And coming from an area colonized by the Scots, I am a bit Scottish; so my music integrates the Tuscarora, African, and Scottish influences. My next album will be interesting, as a crossover of Native traditional music and contemporary music, with songs in English and Native languages. 

How did you start working in France, 

Nueva Onda discovered me through the Music Maker Relief Foundation.

How have French listeners responded?

The French audience has been very receptive. This is the first time I've done an album with French musicians, and it has been wonderful!

Do you have other plans in Europe?

Yes, I will be touring in France and Europe in 2015. And I just came back from Scotland, where I am writing a project with three women singers. The show is about what we share as a Native American, a Gaelic, a Palestinian, and a Maori. We will tour all over the United Kingdom in 2016.

What about the United States?

On the 20th of December, I am part of a show in New Mexico for a Ulali project; then I am singing in Oregon. I have been singing the whole year, doing concerts and giving support for Indigenous causes during gatherings, at the Global Climate March, the United Nations, with Winona LaDuke. And I am really happy: this year was good, to connect with the movements Honor the Earth and Idle No More. The environmental Indigenous network is getting bigger and louder: the fight is growing. It is great. Changes are happening!

For more information on Pura Fé's upcoming album and touring plans, visit PuraFe.com and her official Facebook page.