Grammy winner performs in honor of Earth Day

Justin San Diego

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Musician expresses love of family and nature by singing, playing flute

Mary Youngblood, a two-time Grammy-winning flute player, performed at San Jose City College on April 24.

Youngblood, an Alaskan native, won Grammy awards for “Best Native American Music Album” in 2003 and 2007.

“Mary weaves love into people’s lives,” said guitarist and friend Sana Christian.

The free concert was part of the Art and Lectures program produced by communications professor Merylee Shelton.

The event honored Earth Day, and as a Native American, Youngblood spoke on environmental issues.

She said she related her life experiences to a tree enduring the wind and losing the dead leaves, feeling that overcoming the wind makes the trees stronger.

“The tree dances with the wind,” Youngblood said. “I feel like I am that tree.”

Her love for water relates to being a Cancerian, and her love of kayaking comes from her last name, which translates to “kayak builder” in her native Aleut language.

Youngblood performed 10 songs and answered questions asked by communications professor Merrylee Shelton and audience members.

Aside from playing the flute, Youngblood also sings. Her calming voice communicates messages of peace and love.

“I’m on my way to follow my heart’s desire, find that sacred place to feed the fire,” Youngblood sings in “Feed the Fire.”

Youngblood spoke about her family and heritage during her performance. She went in depth about her birth mother who struggled adjusting to American society and was hit when she spoke in her native language.

She said society’s ways of living are hurting the environment and that we should look to the Native Americans’ and their methods to preserve the planet.

Youngblood is part of the Aleut and Seminole Alaskan tribes.

She was adopted and later found her birth mother at age 26. She has eight sisters altogether and refers to many of her female friends as sisters.

She performed the song “Play with Me,” which was written for her first grandchild.

Youngblood said musicians should follow their dreams, but have something to fall back on.

“The arts are the first to go when the economy goes bad,” Youngblood said. “Nothing beats paying the rent.”

After the show, a line formed to the stage of people who wanted to thank the grammy-winner and get a picture with her.

“Her songs show that she is a good mother and good daughter because she shows gratitude toward family and shares with young people,” said Anh Nguyen, 44, early childhood education major.

Youngblood is trained in several instruments, including the piano and guitar, and she is known as the “first lady of the flute,” according to her website.

“She has been around the world and played for royalty,” Christian said.

Youngblood can be contacted and booked for performance and lessons through her website: