Lumbee singer-songwriter Jana Mashonee uses her musical talent as a springboard for her non-profit organization, Jana's Kids, and this year she was recognized as the "2011 Woman of the Year" by yearofthewoman2011.com.
Moving into her tenth year as a professional touring musician, Jana admits to her humble beginnings playing in bands in her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina until she was discovered by a Motown Records representative, moving on to becoming a Grammy nominated and eight time Nammy winning artist.
With this kind of success and momentum, it would be easy for Jana to move into a commercial business model and continue onto a mainstream career of videos and overt marketing and promotional campaigns of material and sexual nature. For Jana Mashonee though, this is not the case.
Using her identity as an Indigenous woman, she has broken down the barriers of what industry standards are for women in this sometimes amoral society of commerce-based artistry called the new music industry. Readily experimenting with the times, Jana has honed herself in many genres of music, and collaborated with a wide variety of artists and producers including Six Nations Blues-rocker Derek Miller.
Alongside being a prolific singer and songwriter, Jana has spent much of her time giving back to communities by way of workshops and her non-profit organization, the Jana's Kids Foundation, offers scholarships to Native students looking into post-secondary education. Her Triple "A" Scholarships offer athletic, academic and artistic students, an opportunity to apply for funding for further schooling.
This program has been in effect since 2006 and teamed with her "Native Youth Motivational Presentation", she has been able to meld her artistry with philanthropy and give back to communities and support youth, something she holds as an important element of her career path.
Being a college graduate herself, Jana encourages youth to get educated in her motivational presentations, as well as raising awareness about drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse, Indigenous cultural pride and identity, and the dangers of gang involvement. Her workshops are interactive and multidisciplinary, using music and movement and encouraging dialogue with youth.
Alongside her work in youth empowerment and education, Jana also heads the "Reading For Life" program which helps provide culturally relevant reading materials to Indigenous youth in schools. Aiming to bring culturally based literature into schools for Native youth, Jana's Reading For Life Program takes groundbreaking steps into reassuring that Native children are able to have access to reading materials that are familiar and comfortable for them, setting a foundation of literacy they can count on in the future.
Due to her work and unique business model as a woman in the music industry, Jana was recognized by a Miami based women's group "Year of Woman 2011" with the award of "Woman of the Year 2011". The award focuses on women in business who lead successful careers and still balance home and family life.
This movement of empowerment for women in business became a worldwide initiative with nominees from all over the globe in a variety of different disciplines in business. For an Indigenous woman to win this awards reflects highly on both Jana and the movement to empower Indigenous women across Turtle Island and beyond.