Enjoy a weekend of indigenous music, art and culture March 9-10, at the 2012 River People Music and Culture Fest hosted by Givens Performing Arts Center at UNC Pembroke. The festival kicks off Friday, with a morning performance at 10 a.m. At 6 p.m. on Friday, the River Roots Arts Guild hosts an Emerging Artist Showcase in the University Center Annex.

The showcase highlights artist works inspired by the Lumbee River. These works include paintings, sculpture, spoken work, poetry and musical performances. The showcase also features a juried art show by local artists.

On Saturday, the festival continues at GPAC at 6:30 p.m. General admission is $10; $5 for students and children; and $3 for UNCP students.

03-07-12-river-dark-.jpgThe event features Native American Music Award winners Pura Fé and the Trio and Dark Water Rising. Other performers include the Deer Clan Singers, The Henry Berry Band, Unheard Voices, flutist Jonathan Ward and blues guitarist Lakota John, Layla & Friends.

Pura Fé has been a performing artist for more than 25 years. She opened for Neil Young with one of her fi rst solo performances for Aboriginal Voices.

The name, Dark Water Rising, originates from the home of its members. Famed for being the birthplace of Lumbee culture, Robeson County is nourished by cypress-lined swamps and the black water of the Lumber River. These swamps are legendary for hiding Lumbee outlaws during and after the Civil War. Dark Water Rising has been called “One of the most original and charismatic bands to rise from the ‘middle of nowhere.’”

The Deer Clan Singers from Robeson County, are Tuscarora Indians, the Southernmost band of the Iroquois. As strong singers, harmonizers and extensive travelers, they keep the traditions of their ancestors alive through their performances.

03-07-12-river-jonathan-ward.jpgLayla Rose Locklear, 19, is a well-known and talented performer and violinist.

Lakota John plays the bottle-neck slide guitar, harmonica and sings. He blends traditional styles of the Delta and Piedmont acoustic blues with bottle-neck slide guitar.

Jonathan C. Ward started playing the Native-American flute in July 2008 when he worked at a retail store that carried flutes. Ward found a strong love for the instrument. Within eight months, he recorded and released his debut album Native Flutin: A New Beginning.

Officially founded in the ‘70s as a group of spoken-word performers, Unheard Voices is now a sub-group of the Carolina Indian Circle.

Henry Berry is an ongoing studio project by two of the original members of The Henry Berry Band, the notorious outlaw Southern Rock group that terrorized Robeson and surrounding counties in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

The Chavis brothers — Danny, Earl, Frank, James and Ernie brought a national spotlight to Pembroke in the 1950s. The members will be honored for their achievements in music on Saturday, March 10.

Jackie Jacobs is the mistress of ceremonies. Jacobs is a motivational speaker and is known nationwide as the publicist for the Quileute Tribe from the Twilight Saga phenomenon and has worked closely with the native actors.

The River People Music and Culture Fest will spotlight American-Indian culture from across the nation. Many of the performers have connections to North Carolina and Robeson County. Organizers believe this event will showcase some of the most outstanding talent in the American-Indian community. The nations represented include the Eastern Band of Cherokee, Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, Tuscarora, Waccamaw Siouan Tribe and Haliwa Saponi.

For more information, please contact GPAC at (910) 521-6361 or email tasha.oxendine@uncp.edu.

Photos: Dark Water Rising and Jonathan Ward are among the performers at the festival.

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