ND Native American musicians/artists to appear at Carnegie Hall concert

Submitted Photo John Bearstail, Bismarck, originally from White Shield, will be among several Native American musicians/artists who will be part of the orchestra for Grammy award winner Jon Batiste’s concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Saturday.

Native American musicians/artists John “Shorty” Bearstail and his son Thomas Bearstail, Jermaine Bell and Abraham Thomas will be performing along with Grammy award winner Jon Batiste in concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Saturday.

“We’re all here to sing,” John Bearstail told The Minot Daily News in an interview from New York City on Tuesday.

“We are a part of the orchestra – singing our style,” he added.

John and Thomas Bearstail live in Bismarck and are originally from White Shield on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Bell is a student at United Tribes Technical College at Bismarck and from the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Thomas, also of the Wind River Reservation, currently is from Utah.

Batiste, a singer, composer and “The Late Show” bandleader, will debut his “American Symphony” at the Carnegie Hall concert.

DJ Two Bears of Cannon Ball on the Standing Rock Reservation was instrumental in arranging the local group’s participation in the Carnegie Hall event and also at a Met Gala preshow on Monday night.

John Bearstail said all of this came about the week before the Grammy Awards when Batiste was in North Dakota. The Grammy’s were held April 3.

“I just happened to be coming back from New Town that day for work and my wife, Joelle, said, “DJ wants to know if you guys will be able to sing tonight?” John Bearstail said. He told her they could do that.

At the Healing Room at United Tribes Technical College, John and Thomas Bearstail, along with Bell, sang for Batiste.

“We sang on the big drum. We sang a few songs for him and he just loved the music,” John Bearstail said. “He actually hit the drum with us so he was a part of it. We said our goodbyes.”

About two weeks later, he said they were notified that Batiste wanted them to come sing with him at Carnegie Hall.

“And that’s how we got here,” John Bearstail said.

“It’s going to be real fun,” he added.


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