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Jacquelyn Deshchidn (They/Them)
Jacquelyn Deshchidn (alt. the ŁŁoroNnēē) is a Two-Spirit Chiricahua Apache and Isleta Pueblo soprano, composer, poet, public speaker, and indigenous rights activist from the San Carlos Apache Nation—their work addresses issues such as violence against women, sexual assault, and the issues facing Indigenous peoples (climate change, environmental racism, landback, etc).Their work as a composer and vocalist focuses predominantly on freeing the voice and returning autonomy to the performing artist, with special emphasis upon emotional and musical convergence as a means of ceremony and communication--beyond this, their work invokes aspects of Indigenous storytelling, oral tradition, and improvisation as decolonial explorations.
As a performer, Jacquelyn is trained originally in the Roy Hart vocal method, and from this technique they form their foundations of post-colonial vocalization, venturing to the brink of human capacity and holding space for the beauty of all sounds possible made by our bodies and lived experiences.
When not performing their own works, Jacquelyn specializes in music of the 20th and 21st centuries, with particular focus on solo vocal works, extended vocal techniques, improvisation, performance art, and contemporary opera. Most recently, they have ventured into both film and horror podcast work, and eagerly embrace art forms centering physical/sensory or shared experiences such as movement, sculpture, speech or breath.
Jacquelyn's most recent feature is the role of 'Anthem Singer' in Matthew Barney's latest film, Secondary, which will be playing in Barney's studio in Long Island City from May 12th - June 25th.
During an interview with Siddhartha Mitter for the New York Times, Jacquelyn speaks to the experience of being an Indigenous person that lives between two worlds, a Diasporic Nnee (Apache) experience, and the world of fine arts in western culture that has typically chosen to disenfranchise Indigenous voices:
"Jacquelyn Deshchidn, a composer, experimental vocalist and member of the San Carlos Apache Nation, delivers an extremely deconstructed version of the national anthem. 'As an Indigenous person, it was something that I was excited to take on,' Deshchidn said. They became drawn, too, to the work’s environmental aspect, spending breaks on set staring into the damp trench. 'It brought up imagery of bones and burial, and repatriation work — the way there are institutions truly built on top of our bones'."
Additionally, ArtNews' review of Secondary notes that "the video’s best sequence, an anthem is sung by Jacquelyn Deshchidn [...]. Deshchidn, wearing a feathered black coat, fills the spot in a football match where 'The Star-Spangled Banner' is usually heard. Rather than balefully intoning words of patriotism, however, they voice a mix of yelps, sobs, and operatic crooning. At a certain point, Deshchidn says the video’s only audible word over and over: 'Bombs!' Afterward, they stare at the Raiders’ owner, Al Davis (Thomas Kopache), who watches the performance from a viewing booth, and laugh at his stony face."
Prior to their recent film work, Jacquelyn has been featured in the title role of Saariaho’s monodrama, Emilie, with new music ensemble Now Hear This at the Peabody Institute. They were also featured as Mrs. Grose in Peabody Opera's production of Turn of the Screw, directed by Garnett Bruce. During the Peabody Opera Etudes of 2021, Jacquelyn was featured in the title role of Peter Pachak-Robie's opera the Sunday Special at Big Funk's Roadside Diner.
Jacquelyn was a vocal fellow and composer at the 2018 Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, attended the 2018 (R)evolution: Resonant Bodies festival at the Banff Centre as a composer and vocalist, and had their works premiered at both festivals. During these festivals, Jacquelyn worked with performers and composers Anthony Roth Costanzo, Peter Tantsits, Imani Uzuri, and Esteli Gomez.
As a choral singer, they have sung in concert versions of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with NJSO, as well as other performances of Beethoven’s 9th at Carnegie Hall for concerts benefiting Doctors Without Borders.
Jacquelyn has been sought out as a consultant to assist with visibility and diversity initiatives such as Indigenous peoples day, National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and Native American History Month. They have also served as an advocate for two-spirit, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and other LGBTQ+ voices in academic institutions and summer music festivals.
Jacquelyn was awarded an Honorable Mention for the Indigenous Initiative R.I.S.E. 2019 Art & Poetry Fellows for original compositions and a commissioned piece, among other indigenous works that promote awareness of the MMIW epidemic. Jacquelyn was also the recipient of the inaugural Champion of Multiculturalism award at the Peabody institute, recognizing their significant efforts within the community and as a student leader to strive towards a more equitable and compassionate campus.
Jacquelyn holds a graduate degree from Peabody Institute where they studied vocal performance with Tony Arnold. Their significant teachers and mentors include Marcos Balter, Phyllis Chen, Nathan Davis, Jeffrey Gall, Chris Opperman, and Imani Uzuri.
Currently, Jacquelyn is pursuing a second graduate degree, this time in Library and Information Sciences at the University of Denver, where they are focusing on serving urban-Indigenous populations, undocumented and unhoused folks, QTBIPOC folks, and disabled/ND individuals with a special interest in children/youth literature and programming. They are currently located in so-called Boston, where they are working as an archivist, ensemble librarian, and alto section leader at a local church, and frequently travel up and down the east coast throughout the seasons.
Post-graduation, they are looking forward to becoming a performing arts librarian and serving the local community while pursuing and premiering all things weird in the new music scene. Their current explorations are focusing on decolonial sound practices and the development of empathetic vocal expression that holds space for the complexities, pain, and capacity for growth that each of us holds within ourselves.
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