When Jacqueline Wilson takes the stage Saturday night at New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art, she will be one of 13 Indigenous women musicians performing original scores written specifically for each of them by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Raven Chacon.
“This is so unique that I will be standing up there with 12 other Native women representing the first Indigenous Pulitzer Prize winner in music in the history of the award,” said Wilson, a bassoonist and assistant professor of music at Washington State University. “It is by far the most special thing I’ve ever been a part of. I’m really proud of it.”
Wilson and her fellow musicians will be performing a series of 13 lithographs collectively known as “For Zitkála-Šá.” A Yankton Dakota composer and musician, Zitkála-Šá lived from 1876 to 1938 and wrote the libretto and songs for The Sun Dance Opera (1913), the first American Indian opera.
Chacon wrote the graphic scores that make up “For Zitkála-Šá” specifically for Wilson and the other contemporary American Indian, First Nations, and Mestiza women performers.
He envisions each piece as a portrait of the woman who is performing it and how they navigate the twenty-first century.