Published on May 28, 2013 by Amy
Pura Fé (born: Pura Fé Antonia (“Toni”) Crescioni) is a singer-songwriter-musician, poet, artist, dancer, teacher and social activist. Pura Fe is the founding member of the first internationally renowned native woman’s a capella trio, ‘Ulali’, and is recognized for creating a new genre, bringing Native contemporary music to the fore front of the “mainstream” music industry. She currently resides in Durham, North Carolina, and performs internationally with the Pura Fé Trio…and Deer Clan Singers.
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She was born in New York City and raised by her mother and family of female singers who are descendants of the Tuscarora Nation that had migrated from North Carolina to New York in the early 1900s.
Her mother, Nanice Lund, of Tuscarora ancestry, was a classically trained opera singer who toured with Duke Ellington and his Sacred Concert Series. Her father, the late Juan Antonio Crescioni-Collazo was born in Puerto Rico, Spaniards grandparents Puerto Rican Mother and French Father Corsican ancestry. He named her Pura Fé which translates from Spanish as “Pure Faith”.
As an adolescent, Pura Fé studied and performed with the American Ballet Theatre company, briefly trained at Martha Graham school and performed in several Broadway musicals, including The Me Nobody Knows, Ari, and Via Galactica. She also sang with the Mercer Ellington Orchestra.
She attended a small professional school, Lincoln Square Academy, along with classmates and alumniLaurence Fishburne, Ben Stiller, Robbie Benson, Stephanie Mills, Giancarlo Esposito, Pia Zadora, Scott Jacoby and her childhood friend, Irene Cara. In the late 1970s, she worked as a waitress at the famous club Max’s Kansas City in New York. It was soon after that she began singing in bands and began working as a studio singer. She recorded jingles, commercials, backup vocals and lead on demos and recordings such as, Good Enough written by James McBride, and recorded soon after by Anita Baker.
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 also 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, Shaming of the Sun Album with Ulali.
She has appeared on many recordings and film soundtracks, including the Indigo Girls, Shaming of the Sun, 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.
Pura Fé moved to North Carolina in the 1990s to be closer to her Tuscarora roots and communities. She volunteered to teach Native youth 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, for her volunteered contributions and later won their fellowship award.
In Indian Country, Pura Fé is a Smoke Dance Champion and Pow-wow “Fancy Dancer”.
After hearing guitarist Kelly Joe Phelps perform, Pura Fé was inspired to pick up the acoustic lap slide guitar, a dying tradition and style that was once strong in eastern N.C. native communities. After three months of teaching herself her own songs on guitar, she recorded her 2nd solo album, Follow Your Heart’s Desire, released on the Music Maker label. The album was a collection of anthems, stories, protest songs and Iroquois/Tutelo Social Dance songs, that all state the influence of Indigenous music on Blues music and history.
One year later, she opened for Neil Young in Berkley, CA., singing Rise Up Tuscarora Nation and Find the Cost of Freedom. As a solo artist, she has also opened up for Herbie Hancock, Taj Mahal, Al Jarreau and George Duke.
Pura Fé won a NAMMY (Native American Music Award) for Best Female Artist in 2006. She also won a L’Académie Charles Cros Award (France’s Grammy) for Best World Album.
Pura Fé’s third album, Hold The Rain, was released in 2007 with Seattle-based guitarist, Danny Godinez. This album includes an upbeat cover of the song Summertime. Hold the Rain was released in the states through the Music Maker Relief Foundation blues label.
In late 2009, she released her 4th album, Full Moon Rising for both Music Maker and Dixie Frog and began an extensive tour throughout Europe with her new CD, which features several artists including members of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Danny Godinez, Cary Morin, and others.
She currently tours with her band, the Pura Fe’ Trio, which consists of Cary Morin on lead guitar and Pete Knudson on percussion. Her 5th solo album, a live double CD, was released in the spring of 2011: “A Blues Night in North Carolina.” According to a 2011 interview, she will be releasing a new album with the Pura Fe Trio in 2013.