On Nov. 5, acclaimed singer-songwriter and electronic rock artist Marx Cassity will release 2Sacred, the breakthrough album that NPR says, “tackles climate change, discrimination against trans and Native youth and the return of Native land.”
2Sacred is a collection of 10 songs that Marx created working alongside engineer Justin Phelps (Amanda Palmer, Joe Satriani, Chris Isaak). The album explores what it means to be Two-Spirit – a Native American LGBTQ+ person who often fulfills traditional gender variant ceremonial and social roles in their cultures – and one who has learned to love and accept themselves and pursue art as an act of devotion.
Marx, who was called a “songwriter to be reckoned with” by No Depression and works under their given name Marca as a trauma therapist serving LGBTQ+ and Native clients, is an enrolled member of the Osage Nation. Marx placed an X in their name for the creation of 2Sacred in honor of the history of gender diversity in tribal societies around the world. Marx found inspiration for the album in childhood heroes including Annie Lennox, The Cranberries, Freddie Mercury and Buffy Sainte-Marie, among others.
A fire was lit under Marx to create 2Sacred after reading the shocking statistic that 33% of Native American LGBTQ+ youth attempted suicide in 2020. Marx poured the emotions of being made to feel they were an abomination growing up queer on a Native reservation in Oklahoma into the powerhouse album, which also addresses themes of trauma, suicide awareness, decolonization of sexuality and gender, having to leave home due to being ostracized for being queer, as well as the power of community, ceremony, love and support and inspiration channeled through their ancestors.
“After hearing the horrifying statistic about the shockingly high suicide rates of Native American LGBTQ youth, my mission for creating this project was born,” Marx said. “If I can make art that even one person hears, or sees, and they stay alive and love themselves and their identity more because of it, mission accomplished.”
Marx struggled with addiction and suicidal thoughts as a young person, until one day, a building they were leaning against got struck by lightning. Marx was thrown several feet and heard an undeniable message they believe came from their ancestors: “Rise up child, you’re here for a reason” expressed in the lead single, “How Long,” a moving piano-rock anthem that builds to a crescendo of love and self-acceptance. Reminiscent of Eurythmics in its edgy synthesizers, dance beats and powerful vocals, and channeling the energy of chart-topping ‘80s songstress Bonnie Tyler, it conveys that vital message for anyone who has felt marginalized by society, “Rise up child, you’re here for a reason.”
The video for “How Long” portrays the journey of a Two-Spirit youth struggling with their identity and eventually embracing it with the help of their community. Filmed at the historic gothic Old Church Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon and in Marx’s native Oklahoma including on the Osage Nation reservation, it also features evocative motion portraits of contemporary Two-Spirit people. WATCH THE VIDEO FOR “HOW LONG” HERE.
The album’s opener “Somewhere” combines Native and pop vocalizations and staccato percussion. Marx found inspiration for “Somewhere” in the trauma their Osage people endured, which is depicted in the book and the critically acclaimed Martin Scorcese film Killers of the Flower Moon. The song ends by giving voice to Marx’s ancestors who endured genocide, starvation, and displacement from their hunting grounds, rivers and homelands of the Midwest. LISTEN TO “SOMEWHERE” HERE.
Stand-out track “Thunderbird” was inspired by the Standing Rock pipeline protest and how it brought together hundreds of Native nations and people from all over the world to take climate action and brought visibility to Native Americans fighting for the Earth. “Thunderbird” was also inspired by Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sinead O’Connor and The Cranberries’ haunting track “Zombie,” incorporating Marx’s Irish roots.
2. Mourning Dove
3. How Long
4. A Little Better
6. The Way You Move
7. Under Your Wing
8. Fly Away
9. The Dawn
After years spent living in the Bay Area, Portland and Boulder, Colo., Marx recently returned to live in their native Oklahoma as an artist, therapist and activist for LGBTQ+ rights.
Marx received the NDN Collective Radical Imagination Grant and support from the Osage Nation Foundation to produce the video for “How Long” as well the 10-song album 2Sacred that focuses on Two-Spirit resilience, released during Native American Heritage Month in November.
Learn more about Marx Cassity here.