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Jana's 'American Indian Story' receives GRAMMY nod

CANASTOTA, N.Y. - In 2006, 26-year-old Lumbee singer and songwriter Jana was able to cross two more goals off her list: receiving a GRAMMY nomination and filming her first movie.

Jana's third album, ''American Indian Story,'' has received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Native American Music Album.

''This album has been a drastic change for me,'' she said. ''I wanted to do an album that was telling a story with music.''

Jana, who is also working on her first movie, said she thought it was a good time in her career to share her musical story with the public.

'''American Indian Story' is like a movie,'' Jana said. ''Each song leads into the next. The whole album is one story.''

Jana's debut album, ''Flash of a Firefly,'' won Record of the Year at the 2006 Native America Music Awards. The album produced Top 40 hits such as ''What I Am to You,'' which gained fame for Jana across Indian country and in the mainstream music industry.

She said she wanted this album to be different than her first; she wanted it to be an album that people would listen to in its entirety.

''I know people can go online and download just one song, but people wouldn't just watch one scene of a movie and that's what's different about this album,'' she said. ''I've always wanted to tell this story.

''I've always had it in my heart.''

Jana said she worked with the Oneida Indian Nation of New York and its Four Directions Media enterprise, parent company of the Standing Stone Records label with which she is signed, to write her story. She said that she knew what she wanted and the staff at Four Directions Media made it happen.

''American Indian Story'' was released in November 2006, but Jana said she didn't start promoting the album until January. Despite its soft release, Jana's story caught the eye of the Recording Academy.

''I was completely overwhelmed and surprised,'' Jana said when she found out she was a GRAMMY nominee. ''This is truly a dream come true to me to be recognized by the academy.''

''American Indian Story'' is up against ''Voice of the Drum,'' by Black Eagle; ''Heart of the Wind,'' by Robert Tree Cody and Will Clipman; ''Long Winter Nights,'' by Northern Cree and Friends; and ''Dance With the Wind,'' by Mary Youngblood.

''This was a goal of mine in my career,'' she said. ''I'd love to win but it was a goal of mine to just get a nomination.''

Jana, who has performed with everyone she is up against in the Best Native American Music Album category, said she is a fan of everyone's music but draws her inspiration for the craft by looking at all types of music.

''Native American music is typically traditionally pow wow music, and I've been doing more contemporary music,'' she said.

Jana said that while she has looked to traditional American Indian music for inspiration, she also enjoys contemporary artists like Mariah Carey.

''I will listen to a [Native American] album, but when I start writing I don't listen to anything,'' said Jana, who said she likes to focus on her own sound and create something unique.

In December 2006, Jana took a break from singing to star in the upcoming film, ''Raptor Ranch.''

''I've been in Texas filming my first movie,'' said Jana, who describes the movie as a combination of a science fiction, horror and comedy. ''It's about dinosaurs in Texas in 2007. It's a lot of fun.''

Jana plays the star role of West Texas native Odessa, commonly known as ''Oddie,'' in the low-budget film.

''It's been a great learning process for me and a lot of long nights,'' she said. ''The whole movie takes place in one night, so we had to film the movie during 16-hour nights.''

Jana, who plays a strong female who fights dinosaurs, said she was excited to have the opportunity to play a role that wasn't a historical American Indian figure.

As the filming of ''Raptor Ranch'' was wrapping up in Texas, Jana began her promotion of ''American Indian Story'' and waited to see if she would join Jim Wilson, Mary Youngblood and Bill Miller as the next American Indian singer to be honored with a GRAMMY.

''I'm so excited for the opportunity to be nominated,'' she said. ''My next goal would be to win.''