Annie Humphrey
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Annie Humphrey


Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"Annie Humphrey: A Tigress with a Guitar"

Social activism has fueled songs for many generations. During the previous century folk songs fueled the international Republican fighters during the Spanish Civil War, ignited a movement for social justice during the Great Depression and onward through the volatile 1960's. Folk singers Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Joan Baez for instance have become legends in their own rights. Today this tradition includes several Native American musicians such as Robert Mirabal, Joanne Shenandoah and Makoche recording artist Annie Humphrey. And while the aforementioned Native American musicians have bridged the gap between native and non-native American musicians, by performing rock, folk and other genres, Annie Humphrey's name could be mentioned in the same breath with folk singer-social activists Michelle Shocked, Michael Franti and Ani DiFranco.

Humphrey might have grown up on an Indian reservation and struggled with various problems, such as alcoholism, domestic abuse, hopelessness, the welfare system and other experiences associated with American Indians, yet her songs reflect on universal experiences. All races experience poverty, injustice and substance abuse. And so people from many origins would be able to relate to her songs.

Born and raised on the Ojibwe Indian reservation in Northern Minnesota, Humphrey's life might be called dualistic. On one hand, she was introduced to words and music at a young age (her father taught her guitar and her mother, Ojibwe author, Anne M. Dunn influenced Humphrey's poetic gift). But on the other hand, Humphrey also witnessed domestic violence, a topic that appears on the song Mother's Rain on Humphrey's second Makoche CD, Edge of America (read the CD review). Although the song falls into dark territory, Humphrey ends the song on a hopeful note, "I live in a town on the Rez in a house that I built where dreams shine and my children laugh."

However when I asked Annie if those words meant that she healed from wounds caused by witnessing her father battering her mother, she explained that she might have not healed.

"I haven't forgiven my father. Thoughts of him piss me off. I have come far enough to know that I don't ever want my children to see me degraded and hurt and in pain."

Humphrey had also felt stifled by life on the reservation and enlisted in the Marine Corp. This gave her a chance to see other parts of the US and Japan where she was stationed. Humphrey found strength by testing her limits of endurance and she developed a confidence in her abilities.

"I remember telling someone once that a 25 mile hump (forced march) with a full pack in the heat and humidity of Japan on a steep terrain was more painful than giving birth (laughter). But we are strong and that which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. That's an old saying from the Corp that I hold near and dear to my heart (smile)."

Humphrey who writes songs from her own experiences, knows the pain of childbirth because she gave birth to two children, now 7 and 9 years of age. She credits the birth of her son and meeting Native American spoken word performer John Trudell (a dear friend and mentor) for changing her life.

"My own personal evolution started me on this path was having children and hearing John Trudell speak. My son saved my life. I had been a heavy drinker during my years in the Marine Corp and I drank when I got out. I was drinking when I found out that I was pregnant with my son, but the day that I found out that I was going to have a baby, I quit drinking. I've been sober for 9 years. I tell my son that he saved my life. When I tell him about my life before him, he says, 'Mommy, I'm glad that you're a good mommy and you don't smoke or drink anymore."…My children are my healing. They inspire and teach me. And John Trudell has taught me so much."

Despite Humphrey's current success as a recording artist, her first CD, The Heron Smiled garnered two NAMMY's in 2001 and her second album, Edge of America also promises to win accolades, her children are her number one priority. She relocated to Wisconsin where she now lives with her mother and children. Humphrey didn't want to raise her children among the hopelessness found on the Ojibwe Indian reservation.

"I left the reservation to raise my children away from it. The reservation I am from could be described as a buffalo pen. Our ancestors are like buffalo that were born to the land. Then the people were penned up on reservations like buffalo. Now we have people being born into captivity and they can't survive outside the pen without being fed or watered by someone. This is the way it is for many people. I chose to leave. I don't have to stay there and try to make it better. There's plenty of trouble everywhere and my first obligation is to my children and not to the reservation."

Humphrey goes onto describe a sense of powerlessness that affects people of all races. "John Trudell speaks of the system that mines us - Contributed by: cranky crow


Heron Smiled (Makoche Music) 2000
Awarded Best Folk Recording of 2001 (Native American Music Awards)
Spirit Horses, Heron Smiled (Makoche Music)
Best Music Video of 2003 (Native American Music Awards)
Edge of America (Makoche Music) 2003
Sound of Ribbons (Red Cedar Records) May 2008 Release



Annie Humphrey-Jimenez is an Ojibwe mother, singer, songwriter and visual artist who was born and raised on the Leech Lake Reservation in Northern Minnesota.

Annie discovered at the age of eight that playing the piano and guitar came easy to her, and she began writing songs as a young adult.

Feeling smothered on the Reservation, Annie enlisted in the United States Marine Corp at the age of 23. Near the end of her four-year tour she graduated from Police Academy in San Marcos, California. In 1994, Annie was honorably discharged from the Marines.

Since that time, Annie has concentrated on motherhood and music and feels her role as a mother is her greatest accomplishment. "My children are the inspiration for all I do," says Annie.

Annie's music career began out of pure necessity.
With two young children to care for, she began
performing at coffee houses and local events. Over
the years her songwriting has focused on a specific
theme with a message to "Be brave and have a good journey."

Her first recording, The Heron Smiled, won her
national recognition as Female Artist of the Year and Best Folk Recording at the 2000 Native American Music Awards. In 2004, her second recording, Edge of America was released. The title track from this recording was later featured on Chris Eyre's film Edge of America.

Prior to her career as a musician, performer and
recording artist with Makoche' Recording Company,
Annie also studied painting and sculpture.
Now after four years in the making, Annie releases the long-awaited Sound of Ribbons on an Indie Label, Red Cedar Music. The songs mirror and parallel her life’s journey. They are soulful and melodic; and will pluck your heart strings.

Today Annie has three children and is happily married to her husband Mark (also a former Marine). Annie continues to write music and perform, while also pursuing her art career. Her special interest is Turtle Heart, a group she founded that works with youth in her community to promote positive lifestyle choices.