The Kennedy Center

Lakota John


John Lakota Locklear is an old soul with a love for the blues. A talented Native American (Oglala Lakota/Lumbee) Blues guitarist/vocalist who plays Roots, Bottleneck slide and Country Blues Piedmont style guitar from Southeastern North Carolina. Lakota John, born in 1997, grew up listening to his dad’s music collection. At seven years old, he picked up the harmonica and at nine his first guitar. Intrigued by the sound of the slide guitar, by ten he bought himself a glass slide, placed it on his pinky finger and has been playing slide ever since. In 2009, he joined the Music Maker Relief Foundation as one of their Next Generation Artists. Lakota John blends traditional styles of the Delta and Piedmont acoustic blues with bottleneck slide guitar. Today, he is joined by Mama Tonya, Papa John and Sister Layla; a proud Lumbee Nation family of talented musicians.

The Lumbee Nation includes 50,000 members who call the enchanting area around Lumberton, NC, with its swamps and cypress trees, home. The tribe has resided along the banks of the Lumbee River, from which they take their name, since the mid-1700s. It is the largest tribe east of the Mississippi and has yet to gain federal recognition. Since the creation of blues music, Indians have paid an often overlooked but deep contribution to this musical tradition. The father of the blues, Charlie Patton, was a Choctaw Indian. Scrapper Blackwell, Jesse Ed Davis, Elizabeth Cotten, Jimi Hendrix and so many of our great blues and jazz artists celebrated their Indian heritage. Lakota John & Kin continue to stir our musical southern stew with their ancestors’ ancient harmonies and traditional blues melded together.

Lakota tours nationally, opening up for or sharing the stage with reknown Native artist, Pura Fe; Blues icon, Taj Mahal; Native American Blues Rocker, Keith Secola; American Songster, Dom Flemons and many others. He was nominated for Best Blues Recording in 2015 at the Native American Music Awards (NAMA) in Seneca, New York. Lakota John continues to perform at various festivals and events with selected performances at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the Performing Arts Discovery/American Sounds (PADAS) program in Orlando, the Institute of American Indian Art (IAIA) in New Mexico and recently in Los Angeles, CA on the Grand Performances stage.

Watch Past Performances

Video 8/7/2019: Lakota John

Lakota John & Kin are old souls with a love for the blues from southeastern North Carolina. They are virtuosic Oglala Lakota-Lumbee blues guitarist and vocalist who playsroots, bottleneck slide, and Piedmont blues style music.

Presented in partnership with the Library of Congress Homegrown series with American Folklife Center.