NATIVE AMERICAN BROTHER AND SISTER PUNK/WORLD/POP BASS AND DRUM DUO, SIHASIN, RETURN WITH FIRST ALBUM IN 6 YEARS ~ FIGHT LIKE A WOMAN ~ DEBUT AT VERDE VALLEY SCHOOL MAY 26
Verde Valley School is thrilled to announce that Sihasin’s new album, Fight Like A Woman, will have its debut on the campus, Saturday, May 26th at 7:00 pm in a concert also featuring the Jones Benally Family Dancers. Admission is by donation.
Multi-award winning musicians, Jeneda and Clayson Benally from the Dine’ (Navajo) Nation in Northern Arizona create a politically-charged explosive organic sound out of bass and drums, inspiring their listeners with a hard punk backbone, softened by folk, world and thumping by pop. Jeneda is a Verde Valley School alumna, Class of 1992.
As brother and sister, they grew up protesting the environmental degradation and inhumane acts of cultural genocide against their traditional way of life. As teenagers, the siblings were the backbone of the award-winning punk band Blackfire for over twenty years, who performed with legendary rockers like Joey Ramone and Maynard James Keenan. In 2012, they formed Sihasin, the Navajo word for “hope”, releasing their Ed Stasium-produced debut album, Never Surrender, in 2012 to critical acclaim and numerous awards on the American Indian Music scene, and received the honor of being called the “#1 Freedom Fighting Band to Get You Through the Trump Years” by “The Huffington Post” in Dec 2016. They also collaborated on the song “Sister Moon and Brother Sun” for the 2017 Grammy-nominated album by roots children’s duo The Okee Dokee Brothers. Following the inclusion of their punk rock version of the Christmas classic, “Winter Wonderland”, last holiday season in an ad campaign for Hyundai’s annual Holidays Sales Event, in which Jeneda said, “We are excited to further open the doors for Native American artists.”, Sihasin are happy to announce the release of their self-released sophomore album, Fight Like A Woman, on May 25. “I hope that the vulnerability of these songs is relatable and the listener can feel empowered in knowing that ‘hey, you are not alone’”, she says.
“The process that we took in the creation of Fight Like a Woman was completely different than any other recording project that we’ve done thus far”, Clayson says. “It was very organic, most of the melodies and themes where from dreams. I’d wake up and try to hold onto the melodies, usually only a sliver of the song, and I’d share it with Jeneda later on in the day. To my surprise, she would have the complimenting and completing element. It was like the universe was gifting us these songs.”
The duo believes in creating positive change each and every day and Fight Like A Woman, working again with legendary producer Ed Stasium (The Ramones, Talking Heads, Mick Jagger, Living Colour, Soul Asylum), is an incredible personal journey. Clayson says, “Out of the blue Ed called us saying ‘It’s time to get back into the studio’. The state of the political climate, depression of the nation, and the need to work on something from the heart was desperately needed. After hearing the tracks Ed was like ‘we can’t rush this album. We’re going to let the songs speak to us. It deserves all the time it takes’”. He continues, “We are so blessed to have Ed as part of Sihasin.”
Another of Sihasin’s guides and mentors was Jackson Browne, the driving force behind the Verde Valley Music Festival held on the VVS campus back in the 1990s. Browne fell in love with VVS because it was founded to bring together people of different races and cultures. The concerts, which attracted big names like Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn, Keb Mo, The Indigo Girls, and Nancy Griffin, raised money for the VVS Native American Scholarship Fund.
The first single from Fight Like A Woman is the track “Strong Together”. “The song was inspired by the fact that we are a force when we find our commonality rather than our differences. With the movements and hashtag societies, we are changing the isolation of injustice. This song is a call for unity to create healthy and respectful communities”, Jeneda says.
In her words, the title track of the album “aims to occupy every stereotype about being a woman in Western society. It’s about how we are constantly being defined by what the masculine decides who we should be. This song is about finding your own power to be your own definition.”
Another highlight of the new album, the opening song “Child of Fire”, “pays recognition to the fact that we are biologically made of all elements. It is a remembrance that we are children of our Mother Earth. Simply, we cannot live without her so, why then do we destroy her? It also pays homage to our first band Blackfire.”
The track “Shine” Jeneda says, “Is a song of empowerment. I hope that when people listen that they will feel a sense that they are potential and possibility.” “See You” is a love song. “We have always written love songs about justice, equality, and freedom. This is the first time that we’ve recorded a love song of the heart. It’s incredibly personal.”
Originally from Black Mesa on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, Jeneda and Clayson were born into the heart of a political land dispute between a coal mining company and the Navajo and Hopi tribes, separating them by a fence from traditional homeland and family. They grew up protesting the environmental degradation and inhumane acts of cultural genocide, and became known for creating music that reflects hope for equality, healthy and respectful communities, and social and environmental justice. When they formed Blackfire as teens, Clayson told Laurel Morales from “NPR” in 2015, “There was a lot of anger,” Clayson recalls. “Starting the band and performing was a way of channeling that anger and frustration and putting it into something positive, as well.”
Sihasin is a rare band who does more than just perform. They leave their audience with an exhilarating feeling of Get Up, Stand Up, and Do! They have performed at SXSW (playing at and helping organize a Native American showcase), WorldFest, Grassroots, Festival Alfonso Ortiz Tirado, Native American Music Awards, The Woody Guthrie Center, Globalquerque, TanzFest, among many others. They have toured in Europe, Mexico, Canada, and across the US, and the siblings are also known by their internationally acclaimed traditional Dine’ (Navajo) family Dance Troupe “The Jones Benally Family”. The duo also gives presentations and workshops on Native American, environmental, and social justice issues, and are dedicated to bringing that hopeful message to schools all over Indian Country, which have disproportionately low graduation rates with youth at high risk of suicide, where they teach Native American youth how to write their own songs. Jeneda says that she’s helped teens in times of desperation find the right words in a song.
With driving music, transcending labels and rooted in Native, Rock, Punk and World music and vocal harmonies including Dine (Navajo) singing, Clayson says, “The meaning, energy, and intention behind each song speaks to the love and commitment to producing music with a substance.” As Jeneda told KNAU radio, “We want to make music that makes people feel good and that they can do something—that they can create positive change in their community and that’s kind of the spirit behind Sihasin.”