Indigenous Style Icon: Grace Nono (Filipina)

Born and raised in the river valley of Agusan, in Northeastern Mindanao, Southern Philippines, Grace Nono is a Philippine music performing artist, Philippine studies researcher/author, and cultural worker/administrator.

A product of the University of the Philippines where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Humanities and master’s degree in Philippine Studies, Grace is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in Ethnomusicology. She also received training from the Asia-Pacific Performance Exchange residency, the Asian Cultural Council residency, the Asian Institute of Management Arts Management Program, and the Asia-Pacific Cultural Center for UNESCO’s training on Intangible Cultural Heritage.

For the past fifteen years, Grace studied sung oral traditions from Philippine elders, infusing these with her own contemporary voice and spirit to advance issues of living identity, women’s rights, and indigenous spirituality. She has been a featured artist at the House of World Cultures in Berlin, Mercat de les Flors in Barcelona and Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, the Music Village Festival in London, the Lincoln Center’s La Casita Festival in the US, concerts in Paris and Monte Carlo, WOMAD in Yokohama, the Exposition on Nature’s Wisdom in Aichi, the Asian Fantasy Orchestra tours of New Delhi, Bombay, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Miyazaki, Bangkok, Vientiane, Yangon, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, the Hong Kong Asian Arts Festival, the National Museum of Singapore 9 and the Singapore Arts Festival, performances and conferences in Huairou, Bangkok, Jakarta, Nanning, Shanghai, Seoul, Penang, Taipei, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, and many different parts of the Philippines.

Her book, The Shared Voice: Chanted and Spoken Narratives from the Philippines, won in the 28th National Book Awards, Arts category. She is also currently working on a second book on the music of the Philippine babaylan (Visayan/Philippine shaman). In collaboration with composer Bob Aves, Grace has produced an audio and print series on Philippine oral traditions and instrumental music, which are being used by a number of teachers and students in the study of Philippine music, arts and culture. Grace herself has taught Philippine Traditional Arts at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, and Philippine Oral History at Miriam College.

As cultural worker/administrator, Grace serves as Founding Director for the Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts, a non-government organization engaged in cultural regeneration and holistic development initiatives, for which she has been granted support by the the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the National Commission for Culture and Arts,Toyota Foundation, the Ford Foundation, UNESCO, the British Council, Advocates of Philippine Fair Trade, AusAid, and local communities and institutions. To date, Grace has won over 40 awards, including TOYM or Ten Outstanding Young Men Award, TOWNS or The Outstanding Women Award in the Nation’s Service, National Book Award, numerous Catholic Mass Media, Katha, Awit, National Press Club, and other awards for her artistic and cultural contributions.