“Spirits Rising” to present Native American culture


Courtesy of Oakland University

Spirits Rising, a dynamic musical duo featuring Native American singers and songwriters Allison Radell and Joe Reilly – will be performing at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28.

Laurel Kraus, Staff Reporter

Spirits Rising, a Native American musical duo, will perform at 8 p.m. on Jan. 28 in room 109 of Varner Hall as part of Oakland University’s Professional Artist Series.

Joe Reilly and Allison Radell will be showcasing original music, best described on their website as “incorporating elements of jazz, folk, blues, hip-hop, rock and traditional Native American music.”

Their songs, such as “Idle No More” and “Sacred Fire,” can also be found for free at SpiritsRisingMusic.com.

“I think a huge vision for us as Spirits Rising is letting people know that Native culture and Native people is still living today, and it’s evolving,” said Radell, who is also assistant director of International Students and Scholars. “We don’t live in museums.”

The pair will be joined on stage by Associate Professor of Music Mark Stone on percussion and his wife Lesley-Anne Stone on vocals. Gayelynn McKinney will also play drums, and Jacob Warren will play bass.

“It’s [the event is] going to be a reflection of our music,” Reilly said. “We’re going to have some traditional Native American dancers with us, so they’ll be dancing while we’re performing. We’ll have a full band with us and the dancers, so it’s gonna be a pretty interactive and powerful performance.”

Ray Cadette will be performing a men’s traditional dance, while Julie Whitepigeon will showcase her skills in a jingle dress dance, and Tami Castillo does a fancy shawl dance.

Tickets are $14 for general admission and $8 for students, and can be found at StarTickets.com.

Reilly and Radell met while working at a youth program for American Indian Health and Family Services in Detroit and began writing music together as their relationship evolved.

“For me personally, I usually get inspired while I’m driving, and I’ll hear something, and that’s really where it starts,” Radell said. “I always feel like when I’m writing, it’s like a passing through me, so it’s like coming from someplace else and coming through me in that sort of way.”

Spirits Rising’s first performance was at NativeFest in Mount Pleasant a few years ago, and the pair’s hope for the future is simply to continue having the opportunity to perform.

“I hope we continue to grow, like have more opportunities to perform and share our music and our message, and that we grow together as a couple too,” Reilly said. “We’re engaged right now, so I’m hoping in a few years that we’re married and still happy together and making music together.”

“We stand with Standing Rock” T-shirts will be sold at the event for $20, with proceeds benefiting the Michigan camp at Standing Rock.

There will also be a dance workshop at 1 p.m. the same day in 109  Varner Hall, consisting of participant-involved Native American dance.

“I think our campus community should realize that Native American music and dance is the original music of Michigan,” Stone said. “I think it’s really important, in addition to all the diverse things that we do, we have the opportunity to experience the oldest musical tradition, the oldest dance tradition of where we live.”

For inquires on the event, contact Stone at [email protected].