APPLETON — Jezelle Childs-Evans, known by the stage name J25, is a musical artist from Wisconsin who is having a great year.
The Chickasaw Nation member is collaborating on an album with a star of the hit Hulu series “Reservation Dogs”, was recently nominated for a Native American Music Award and plans to attend the Grammy Awards in April.
Childs-Evans, 37, is the only woman nominated for this year’s nominees for Best Rap and Hip Hop Music Video at the Native American Music Awards.
“There’s so much musical talent and entrepreneurs coming from every Indian reservation in the world,” she said. “It’s time for us to shine a light on our culture and show the public that we are still here and need to be heard.”
She was nominated for her song “Indigenous”. The winners will be finalized on April 1, and the date of the ceremony in New York is yet to be determined.
“I’m honored and grateful to be nominated for the Native American Music Awards,” said Childs-Evans, of Appleton. “There are so many musicians and artists that I’ve looked up to in our Native American culture and to be a part of that is amazing.”
According to her, one musician who has definitely inspired some of her music is Sten Joddi, rapper and co-star of the Hulu series “Reservation Dogs.”
The show follows four teenagers from an Oklahoma reservation who plan to flee their community to California to start a new life, but soon discover why they actually love their home.
Sten Joddi portrays a deadbeat dad who later brings comic relief to the series with the hilarious “Greasy Frybread” music video. Fried bread, made with fried dough, is a staple in many Native American cuisines. It’s the state bread of South Dakota.
Childs-Evans recently collaborated with Joddi on an album called “Blessings on Blessings”, produced by David Strickland, which will be released later this year.
She was also inspired by several other notable Indigenous musical artists including Taboo of Black Eyed Peas, Drezus, Snotty Nose Rez Kids and Supaman.
“We are all building a strong foundation for Indigenous musicians and artists so that our young emerging artists will continue to do so,” Childs-Evans said.
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One up-and-coming young artist she works with is Trent “Novel” White of the Menominee Nation. Together they form the group Reztitution.
Childs-Evans also founded a record label in Wisconsin called HGM Music Group, designed to promote other native musical artists.
Native hip-hop tends to focus on issues that affect nations and tribal peoples. Childs-Evans and other artists use the platform to raise awareness of issues affecting Indian Country, such as the former Indian Residential Schools which resulted in trauma and death for many, violence against Indigenous women and sovereignty battles .
“What I love the most is that we all bring a strong message to the industry about the issues that affect our tribes while staying in tune with our traditions and values,” she said. “Music is a good medicine and a positive energy that we want to spread throughout the world.”
Last year, Childs-Evans was inducted into the Recording Academy, the organization that presents the annual Grammy Awards. She reviewed and voted for the top eligible music submissions across hip hop, pop, jazz, rock, reggaeton, and gospel.
Childs-Evans plans to attend the 64th Annual Grammy Awards in Las Vegas on April 3.
Frank Vaisvilas is a Report for America Green Bay Press-Gazette-based corps member covering Native American issues in Wisconsin. He can be reached at 920-228-0437 or [email protected], or on Twitter at @vaisvilas_frank. Please consider supporting journalism that informs our democracy with a tax-deductible donation to this reporting effort at GreenBayPressGazette.com/RFA.