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Pura Fé (born: Pura Fé Antonia ("Toni") Crescioni) is an American Native singer-songwriter, musician, composer, seamstress, teacher and activist. She is also the founding member of the Native American women's a cappella trio, Ulali.
Pura Fé was born in New York City and brought up by her mother, grandparents and family of women singers. They count eight generations of sisters through their maternal line as Indigenous Tuscarora Deer Clan of North Carolina, and have Black and Scot-Irish ancestry as well. The family moved to New York from North Carolina in the 1930s.
Her mother, Nanice Lund, was a classically trained opera singer who toured with Duke Ellington and his Sacred Concert Series. Her father, Juan Antonio Crescioni-Collazo, was born in Maunabo, Puerto Rico. He had maternal Borinquen Taíno Indian roots, Canary Island Spanish Berber ancestors and paternal Corsican immigrant grandparents.
In New York City, Pura Fé was on the board of the American Indian Community House (AICH).
In 1997 Pura Fé moved to North Carolina, and taught and traveled, bringing the Seventh Generation Youth Group under the North Carolina Cultural Center to open for Ulali. Pura Fé worked with several communities teaching culture, song and dance, and worked with a Native woman's society. She won several awards for her cultural contributions.
In 2015 Pura Fé moved, married and lives in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada. She has been working with several Native theater and dance theater groups and Native filmmakers, composing and recording music for Canadian productions.
As an adolescent, Pura Fé studied and performed with the American Ballet Theatre, briefly trained at Martha Graham school and performed in Broadway musicals The Me Nobody Knows, Ari and Via Galactica. She also sang with the Mercer Ellington Orchestra.
She attended Lincoln Square Academy. In the late 1970s, she worked as a waitress at club Max's Kansas City in New York. Soon after, she began singing in bands and as a studio singer. She recorded jingles, commercials, backup vocals and lead vocals on demos and recordings such as "Good Enough", written by James McBride.
In 1994, she was nominated and performed at the Juno Awards for Best Global Recording, for the album Condor Meets the Eagle by Kanatan Aski with Pura Fé. She released the CD, Mahk Jchi with Ulali on "Corn, Beans and Squash Music" and she appeared with Ulali on Robbie Robertson’s Music for the Native Americans.
In 1995, she released her first solo album, the R&B-inspired Caution to the Wind, written and produced by James McBride, on Shanachie Records. She appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno with Ulali and Robbie Robertson, debuting the Ulali song "Mahk Jchi (Heartbeat Drum Song)", which went platinum in Italy.
In 1996, she appeared and toured on The Indigo Girls' album Shaming of the Sun with Ulali.
She has appeared on many recordings and film soundtracks including Miramax's Smoke Signals soundtrack, the Turner Documentary series The Native Americans, 1 Giant Leap DVD, The World Festival of Sacred Music for the Dalai Lama, Showtime's The L-Word, and A Thousand Roads soundtrack.
After hearing guitarist Kelly Joe Phelps perform, Pura Fé began to play the acoustic lap slide guitar and recorded her second solo album, Follow Your Heart's Desire, released on the Music Maker label.
A year later, she opened for Neil Young in Berkeley, California, singing "Rise Up Tuscarora Nation" and "Find the Cost of Freedom". As a solo artist, she has also opened for Herbie Hancock, Taj Mahal, Al Jarreau and George Duke.
Her third album, Hold The Rain, was released in 2007 with guitarist Danny Godinez.
In late 2009, she released Full Moon Rising for Dixiefrog Records and toured extensively throughout Europe.
Her fifth solo album, a live double CD, was released in the spring of 2011: A Blues Night in North Carolina.
She currently performs internationally with her band and the Deer Clan Singers, and announced a new Ulali Project album for 2017.
Pura Fé has lent her voice to many environmental and Indigenous rights groups and campaigns. In 2013, she rowed in the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign canoe journey. In 2014, she participated in the Honor the Earth Love Water Not Oil Tour with Winona LaDuke to oppose the Enbridge expansions of the tar sands and fracked oil pipelines. She marched with Ulali Project in the front lines of the People's Climate March singing the song, "Idle No More," which she co-wrote with Cary Morin for the Idle No More movement.
Pura Fé moved to North Carolina in the 1990s and volunteered to teach young people in the rural Indian communities of Robeson County, North Carolina. She won the Community Spirit Award from the First Peoples Fund of the Tides Foundation and later won its fellowship award for her volunteer contributions.
- Sacred Seed (Nueva Onda Records, 2015)
- Pura Fé Trio Live!: A Blues Night in North Carolina (Dixiefrog Records; Music Maker, 2011)
- Full Moon Rising (Dixiefrog Records, 2009)
- Hold The Rain (Dixiefrog Records, Music Maker 2007)
- Tuscarora Nation Blues (Dixiefrog Records, 2006) (European release of Follow Your Heart's Desire with two extra songs)
- Follow Your Heart's Desire (Music Maker, 2004)
- Mahk Jchi with Ulali (Corn, Beans & Squash Records, 1997)
- Caution to the Wind (Shanachie Records, 1995)
Side projects, contributions and collaborations
- The Rough Guide to Native America (World Music Network, 2012), compilation
- The Voices - Women's Voices for Attawapiskat (Toronto, Canada, 2011), album, contributor, collaboration
- Diverse As This Land Volume II (Banff Centre, 2011), compilation
- Music Maker Revue - Live in Europe (Dixiefrog, 2011), compilation
- Deers R Us, Deer Clan Singers (Music Maker, 2011)
- Native American Calling - Music from Indian Country (Trikont, 2010), compilation
- Indian Rezervation Blues (Dixiefrog, 2009), compilation
- Dans La Tête D'Un Homme, Alexandre Kinn (Universal, 2008), collaboration
- Sisters of the South (Dixiefrog, 2008), contributor, compilation
- Drink House to Church House, Volume 2, DVD/CD set (Music Maker, 2007), contributor
- Blues Sweet Blues (Music Maker, 2007), contributor, compilation
- Only Breath, Jami Sieber (Out Front Music, 2007), contributor
- The Last & Lost Blues Survivors (Dixiefrog, 2005), contributor, compilation
- Speaking the Mamma Tongue, John McDowell (Raven, 2004), lead vocals on two songs: "Face the Wind" and "Oma Wani Yea"
- 1 Giant Leap (Palm Pictures, 2002), contributor
- Without Reservations, XIT (Warrior, 2002), guest appearance
- The Ghosts of St. Augustine, Tonemah (Red Sky, 2001), collaboration
- Always Be, Jeffrey Gaines (Artemis, 2001), background vocals
- World Festival of Sacred Music, the Americas, Los Angeles (Bindu Records, 2000), contributor
- Songs for Chiapas (Ra Records, 1999), compilation
- Smoke Signals soundtrack (Tvt, 1998), contributor
- Weaving The Strands: Music By Contemporary Native American Women (Red Feather, 1998)
- Haida: The Haida Way (Red Vinyl, 1998), background vocals
- ''Shaming of the Sun, Indigo Girls (Sony, 1997)
- Mirabal, Robert Mirabal (Warner Bros., 1997)
- Lessons from the Animal People (Yellow Moon Press, 1997)
- Tribal Fires: Contemporary Native American Voices (Rhino, 1996), contributor
- Honor: A Benefit for the Honor the Earth Campaign (Daemon, 1996), contributor
- Tribal Voices: Songs from Native Americans (Earthbeat, 1996), contributor
- Legends Project: I am an Eagle (Curb Records, 1995)
- Heartbeat: Voices of First Nations Women (Smithsonian/Folkways, 1995), contributor
- The Fire This Time: Dancing on John Wayne's Head (Extreme, 1995), compilation
- Music for the Native Americans, Robbie Robertson (Capitol Records, 1994)
- Condor Meets the Eagle with Kanatan Aski (Black Jaguar Productions, 1994)
- Maggie's Dream (Capitol Records, 1990), vocals on "Between Fear & Desire"
- Southern Cultures; Vol 15, No. 3, "Blues Power in the Tuscarora Homeland: The Music of Pura Fe", 2009
- The Fayetteville Observer, "Pura Fé dedicates her music to lifting up her people"; January 26, 2005
- "Poll/Silas House/Pura Fe Crescioni « WUNC | 91.5fm | the state of things | Audio Archive". Ibiblio.org. 2004-11-19. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
- "Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign | Honoring Native Treaties | Protecting the Earth". Honorthetworow.org. 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
- "Press Release". Honor The Earth. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
- Dominique Godrèche (2014-12-01). "A Native Musician in Paris: Pura Fé Cuts a New Album With French Musicians - Indian Country Media Network". Indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com. Retrieved 2017-05-27.