Artist adjusts to life without gigs

Indian Country Today

'I've had a health issue and so I'm one of those folks that have to really be careful about my contact'

Randy Kemp is an artist living in Phoenix, Arizona. He's Choctaw and Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Like all artists and musicians, the pandemic has cancelled all of his gigs nationwide. He talks about how he's coping, especially since he's survived a heart attack that put him in the hospital for five months with several more months of healing at home. 

A few of his comments:

"All of a sudden the emails started to come in to say things to postpone, canceled. It started tumbling pretty fast."

"Our son Raven was attending the San Francisco Art Institute." When the pandemic hit Kemp was able to have his son return to Arizona.

"The city was going to do a lockdown, which meant that it gave them a little time to prepare. I mean, to think about the pandemic and school was quite a pressure. 

"We wanted him to get out and he brought a classmate with him so that they can still work from our home ." The two students are now taking online classes.

"2016 was my year of retirement from my work at Arizona State University." He had worked there for 30 years. "I was looking forward to all the goodbyes and the celebrations and so on, but about April 2016, I started having pains in my shoulder, which I thought was my collarbone from an earlier football accident."

"I went into the doctors and the pain was there and they said, well, let's hook you up to the EKG. And I did. And they went out the room and they came back, the doctor says, 'Hey, come with me.'"

"We're walking down the hallway and all of a sudden the lights in the hospital came on and I said, well, what's going on?"

"'That's a code blue," said the doctor. He told Kemp he was the one having a heart attack.

"Within five minutes, we had the room full of people, doctors and nurses, and they were cutting off my, my clothing, my shoes, my good Saucony running shoes. And five months later, I spent my entire time in the hospital because of that heart attack."  

"One month was actually in a coma for healing."

"I experienced probably two flat lines as I stayed there more than five minutes of flatline. So all of these things were stories that my family told me as I was going through it because I had really no idea what was really happening."

"I got an outpouring of support."

"I'm really thankful for some of the art groups that are helping artists online. And as you know, there's been a lot of artists performing online, which is great to see that that is so important for us to hear."

Here is Randy's musical piece "Equinx" with guitarist Dean Yazzie. 

Also on the daily newscast, Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye reports updated COVID-19 numbers in Indian Country.

The host of the program is Patty Talahongva, executive producer of Indian Country Today.