‘If dreams had music…’
Two-Hawks present tradition in music
Marcus Clem | Collegio Reporter
For every expression of life, condition and emotion, there’s a flute for that.
That’s a twist on the perspective of Lakota Sioux artist John Two-Hawks,
who performed an hour-long selection of his music on Nov. 19 in the U-Club in the Overman Student Center. The Office of Student Diversity and the Native American Student Association (NASA) organized the concert with an allocation provided by the Student Government Association.
Two-Hawks used a different flute for each of his eight songs. All of them were hand-carved from wood taken from fallen branches and other materials.
“It’s a miracle that you can take a limb from a tree and create music like that,” said Ricardo Intonio Quinteres, junior in technology education and NASA member.
Two-Hawks says each flute has its own eternal spirit that manifests when he is given the privilege of playing it.
“It’s all about the story behind each song,” Two-Hawks said. “Though the message is always, ‘we give first and then are allowed to receive.’ We do not take.”
Two-Hawks says his performance is always a combination of constants and the vibe of the stage and the audience. He wears an elaborate arrangement of clothes and jewelry on stage. The centerpiece is a black jacket stitched with the emblem of a leader in the Delaware Nation, a close friend of Two-Hawks, Bill Two-Horses. His jewelry is red and blue, and highlighted by a ring reflecting Two-Hawks’ motto on the good and bad aspects of life. The negative blue is always oriented toward him.
“I’ll take the ‘blue’ day and give the ‘red’ day,” he said. “That is our (Lakota Sioux) custom, our culture, to give of yourself and to make sacrifices.”
On stage, Two-Hawks improvises his movement and body language to the acoustics of the environment, his inner sense of what surrounds him and his perception of the audience. He never stands still, taking steps in time with high and low notes on his flute and dipping or turning his body constantly in different directions.
“It’s calming,” Quinteres said. “I feel like if dreams had music, that would probably be the soundtrack.”
After each song, Two-Hawks bows and presents the flute to the audience and prepares the next instrument while discussing a story or topic that he associates with the song to come.
“Although I’m a Cherokee Nation member, and we’re not from the same nation, it brings a touch of what our heritage is,” said Garrett McHargue, senior in construction management and NASA president. “I really like his connection to each song and flute and the stories that he was able to share.”
Two-Hawks is a Grammy and Emmy-nominated artist who tours worldwide. He is most known for his composition and musical work for the HBO film “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.” He resides with his wife, Peggy Hill, in Arkansas.