Skip to main content

Win the Contest, Heal the Wife: Musician Asks Indian Country to Vote

Native musician John Greenfield is competing in a jingle-writing contest, and says the prize money would help his wife in her battle against cancer.

John Greenfield, Gros-Ventre, is trying to fight his wife's cancer with a commercial jingle, and he needs your help. Mary Lewis was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer just days before the couple was given notice to evacuate their home in Nashville, Tennessee, because of mold. John hopes to raise a little cash to get into a new housing situation where Mary's treatments will actually help the cancer stop growing.

How did the jingle contest become the solution to your problems?

I've been aware of this contest since fall, but I'm not much for contests and wasn't planning to enter it. Then we got the cancer diagnosis and found out the apartment was full of black mold because it had flooded, but never been reported.

I don't know about your beliefs, but my great spirit turned my head toward the TV where the commercial for the jingle contest was on, and said, "You need to enter it and win it and get your woman into a healthier environment so she has a fighting chance against this cancer."

This was December 29 and the deadline to enter the contest was December 31. I sat down and wrote the jingle in about ten minutes, we recorded the thing in a couple of hours, and two hours to make video, and we literally got it into the contest one hour before deadline. It was meant to be—things like that take weeks.

Do you have a background in music and producing videos?

I do a little local, for fun, cable access TV show with a buddy, Woodstok, who did the production. I play bass and drums and sing. I'm the only musician in the jingle. I know it's silly—we designed it that way! I turned to Woodstok at the deadline and said, "Tell me that the great spirit doesn't want that us in the contest!" It was told to me to do it and to win it. It was produced and submitted in the last minute, so it only makes sense that it would win it at the last minute.

Who are the back up dancers?

Those were some gals we met on bridge that day. I asked them if they wanted to be in our video and they jumped right in. Those are some of the people who are voting a hundred times a day for me!

Scroll to Continue

Read More

How are you faring in the contest?

I'm in twelfth place with about 45,000 votes, and that's why I wanted to reach out to my Indian brothers. I need every Indian who reads this to get behind this. You can vote continuously, and if 30,000 Indians vote for about ten minutes a day, it's not impossible for me to win. The contest ends February 28, that's important to note, so I only have a week to play catch up and win this thing between now and the end of next week.

My wife and I keep a roof over our heads. We're in tough times, we're both working and we're never late with the rent. I'm going to take the winnings for first, last and a deposit on a place that doesn't have mold in it. The doctors wanted to stop her therapy because she's living in a toxic environment. She's getting radiation every day and chemotherapy twice a week and she's just treading water, not improving. They're suggesting that's because of the mold. Luckily, it's illegal to stop the treatments once they're started. But I need to get her out of this environment and it's gonna take a windfall. We're not asking for donations or sympathy, I'm just asking for people to go vote for me for 10 minutes a day and I'll win this thing.

The radiation and chemo is wearing her down, and she's coughing all the time. They said there's a 30 percent chance of survival with all the therapies, six months without it. It's not good, but I know for a fact if I can get her out, she'll survive. She's got the fight. We have to move by March 1, regardless of how this pans out.

What's the competition look like?

The woman out in front has 300,000 votes and she has money. She goes to college and she holds voting parties where she racks up 40,000 to 50,000 votes at a time.

How does your Native heritage fit into this story?

Patty Quisno, one of the tribal leaders at the Gros Ventre in northeastern Montana, told me to contact Indian Country to get the word out. I was born and raised in Butte, and Patty leases my land for her cows up there. Mary is part Cherokee, and her family is from Ohio.

You can vote for John Greenfield's entry or any of the other jingles at

Visit John Greenfield's site for a speed voting tutorial: