Joseph FireCrow Jr., Northern Cheyenne Grammy Award Winning Flute Player
Joseph FireCrow was known as a cultural ambassador and his smile, warmth and generosity were his trademarks. He walked on at age 58.
The Northern Cheyenne and GRAMMY™ award winning artist Joseph FireCrow walked on at age 58, Tuesday July 11, in Winsted, Connecticut, with his wife Joann by his side. He was battling idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which affects the lungs. There is no known cure for IPF and he had been waiting for a lung transplant. Services were held on Saturday, July 15, in Winsted. He is survived by his siblings, his wife, Joann Moore, and children Brandon, Karrie, Joseph III, Damian and Jared.
FireCrow was born in Crow Agency, on March 29, 1959, one of 10 children born to Joseph FireCrow Sr. and Elva Stands in Timber. He spent his early years on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. FireCrow attended the St. Labre Mission School in Ashland, Montana and graduated from Salmon High School in Idaho. He also studied at Brigham Young University in Utah, where he studied flute from John Rainer.
FireCrow began making and playing flutes in the summer of 1977 when he was 18 years old. On his website, he states, “You can teach someone how to play the flute, but you can’t teach them how to make it sing.” And everyone who heard him perform knows that Joseph FireCrow made his flutes sing. Also from his website, “The natural beauty of the flute evokes very powerful emotions. The traditional flute is social, not ceremonial, in nature, and should always be treated with that in mind and spirit.”
Creator’s Prayer – by Joseph Fire Crow
Joseph FireCrow was a humble, caring, compassionate man, whose smile and laughter is what people remember most about him. Joseph conducted flute-making workshops, presented and played at schools, universities and powwows, he performed around the country and was known as one of the top Native flute-players.
He was a frequent contributor to Operation Music Aid for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), often donating his handmade flutes and music library to assist in their recovery through music therapy. In 2013, he helped produce a compilation CD to benefit Operation Music Aid and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northern Cheyenne Nation. The album is called Dawn’s Early Light, and includes FireCrow and Cody Blackbird, Joanne Shenandoah, Shelley Morningsong, Martha Redbone, Casper Loma-Da-Wa and Brian Card.
FireCrow was proud of his acting debut in which he read, acted and appeared in an Off Broadway play, the Native American inspired Distant Thunder, with Spencer Battiest (Seminole). He also worked with Steven Spielberg on Into the West and Ken Burns for the documentary Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery. Joseph contributed to a composition entitled, The Gift of the Elk, which was commissioned by the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra and premiered in April 2010 with Maestro Jung-Ho Pak conducting.
The piece was based on the traditional story of how the Native American flute came to the Northern Cheyenne people. FireCrow called himself a Cheyenne Fluteman who carried the Wolf Songs.
In the early 1990’s FireCrow was working in a power plant in Billings, Montana to support his family. He started to play the flute again and then summoned the courage to quit that job, after releasing two self-produced CD’s. He had picked up his flute and made it sing again and continued on this wonderful journey. A few years later, FireCrow met his wife Joann Moore at the Schemitzun Festival in Connecticut,they soon married and he moved there, which he said was good for his family and career.
The Nature Of – by Joseph Fire Crow
FireCrow has released eight solo albums, six internationally. His accomplishments include a GRAMMY™ in the New Age category as a guest artist on David Darling’s “Prayer for Compassion”2010, a GRAMMY™ nomination in the Best Native American Music Album category 2000, seven Native American Music Awards: Songwriter of the Year, Best Instrumental Recording and Flutist of the Year (3), Artist of the Year, and Song/Single of the Year; as well as a Telly award. In 2016, FireCrow received the NAMA Lifetime Achievement Award, honoring him as a top singer/songwriter, flute player, vocalist and musician.
Joseph FireCrow’s discography: The Mist – 1992; Rising Bird – 1994; Tribal Winds: Music from Native American Flute (an anthology on Earthbeat) – 1995; Fire Crow – released 1996 and re-released 1999; Cheyenne Nation – 2000; Parmly’s Dream – 2002, a collaboration with the Billings Symphony Orchestra performing on a composition by Jim Cockey, Signature, a second collaboration with Jim Cockey and the Billings Symphony Orchestra in 2003; Legend of A Warrior – 2003; Red Beads – 2005 featuring Joseph’s late mother, Eva Stands In Timber; Face The Music – 2009; Out of Many We Are One with Thomasina Levy and others – 2010; Joseph FireCrow Live At the Winsted Green – 2011; Nightwalk – 2012. His music is available and can be purchased on his website, at CDBaby.com, and Amazon.com.
Friends and family were invited to a celebration of Joseph FireCrow’s life on Saturday, July 15, in Winsted, with services after and then a private burial at the convenience of the family.
Cards and memorial gifts can be sent directly to Joann at: PO Box 173, Winsted, CT 06098. In Lieu of flowers please send contributions and donations to: Northern Cheyenne Girls and Boys Club, P.O. Box 309, Lame Deer, MT 59043-0309. To leave your online condolences, please visit http://www.maloneyfuneral.com/notices/Joseph-FirecrowJr/guest-book
The Billings Gazette wrote a tribute for the local community’s beloved native son and sent word for all who knew Joseph to come honor him at a celebration of FireCrow’s life on July 15 at the Mennonite Church in Lame Deer, Montana.
Joseph’s life and his music was a blessing and he shared his love, his blessings and his music with everyone. A beautiful soul returns to spirit. Many prayers from all around Turtle Island guide the path for Joseph FireCrow on his journey.