Medicine Singers

"Honor Song" (Stone Tapes/Joyful Noise)

Contact Jacob Daneman & Yuri Kwon about Medicine Singers

Today, which is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Medicine Singers (the collective started by Eastern Medicine Singers and guitarist Yonatan Gat) unveil their powerful new track “Honor Song,” featuring Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) on guitar, Timothy Herzog (Godspeed You! Black Emperor), Thor Harris (Swans) on drums, Dean Running Deer Robinson playing powwow drum, and Ojibwe Canadian artist Zoon, making their debut with the collective on backing vocals. “Honor Song” is a dedication to loved ones who have passed, namely the vocalist Arthur Red Medicine Crippen’s partner Kathleen, who he lovingly refers in a statement below as Ms. Kat, as well as beloved Medicine Singers collaborator and jazz musician jaimie branch. The track was recorded two weeks after branch’s death, in a recording session she was scheduled to appear on.


With their 2022 self-titled debut album garnering universal acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork (“vivid new context for the sound of the powwow drum”) and The New Yorker (“breathes fire, detonating cultural walls”), “Honor Song” marks the first release from the band since that debut, and builds on the group’s groundbreaking approach to Eastern Algonquin powwow music, blending it with elements of spiritual jazz, psychedelic punk and electronic music to create a wholly unique post-genre sound. Recorded live at Hotel2Tango in Montreal, “Honor Song” was produced and mixed by Gat, with help from Swedish electronics maverick and frequent Fever Ray collaborator Peder Mannerfelt, and Josh Berg, who previously worked on albums by Kanye West and Earl Sweatshirt.


Speaking on the track, Arthur Red Medicine Crippen says:


“Honor Song” was given to me by my uncle Wayne Red Dawn Crippen. When my wife Ms. Kat wasn’t feeling well I used to sing it to her when she was in the hospital every night. Ms. Kat is from the Ramapo tribe of NJ and NY, she’s also Montauk, her name is Spirit Dancer. When we were in the KEXP radio station in July, that was the song that came to my mind – the Honor Song. I didn’t know how sick Ms. Kat really was, until I came home and she passed away in August. This song lingers because we lost her since we recorded it. When I sing this song I think of her the whole time. It’s a part of my prayer, I end each day singing this song and I know she’s listening. “Honor Song” is a travel song, when people leave this world they travel to another dimension, and songs like this reach them.


Additionally, the band have shared their emotional KEXP session, one that was recorded while Ms. Kat’s health was declining and features a moving version of “Honor Song” devoted to her by her husband Arthur. The radio session also features standout from the band’s 2022 self-titled album, “Rumble,” (a tribute to legendary indigenous rock n’ roll icon Link Wray) along with another unreleased track, “Midnight.” Watch the full session below.


Medicine Singers are a collective of Native and non-Native musicians with a penchant for “detonating cultural walls” (The New Yorker). They have pushed contemporary powwow music into territories that would have been unimaginable a mere seven  years ago when the members of the collective had their serendipitous first meeting during 2017’s SXSW Festival, where Yonatan Gat saw Eastern Medicine Singers playing on the street and invited the powwow group to spontaneously join his show.


The performance that ensued left both the musicians and audience members in tears, and the powwow band continued working as a collective alongside Gat and his collaborators (including branch, Harris, Laraaji, Ikue Mori and now Ranaldo) earning worldwide praise both for their innovative sound and their commitment to social justice, using portions of their earnings to support Indigenous-operated non-profits such as the Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust.