Meet the Diva, Arigon Starr
Arigon Starr is an enrolled member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma. She grew up on the road as part of a military family. Her parents, Ken Wahpecome (Kickapoo) and mother Ruth (Creek-Cherokee-Seneca) supported her artistic expressions, encouraging her to learn as much as possible about music, composition, art, and drama. Starr relocated to Los Angeles, where she worked behind the scenes at entertainment companies like Viacom Productions and Showtime Networks. In 1996, she left her corporate job behind and became a full-time musician.
Starr’s first CD, Meet the Diva, was named Best Independent Recording at the Second Annual Native American Music Awards. Her second release, Wind-Up, contained the hit Junior Frybread, which was named Song/Single of the Year at the Fourth Annual Native American Music Awards. In 2002, Wacky Productions released her third CD, Backflip, which featured Grammy-nominated country act BR549. Starr’s fourth CD, The Red Road – Original Cast Recording was named the Best Contemporary CD at the 15th Annual First Americans in the Arts Awards and features a Who’s Who of musical guest stars from Los Angeles and Nashville. Additionally, Arigon was named Songwriter of the Year by the Native American Music Awards and received a nomination for Best Country CD from Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards.
Starr’s music has taken her around the world including stops in London and the famous West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, in addition to appearances at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and at venues like Sky City and Isleta Casinos in New Mexico, the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa and the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC and New York City.
Starr has also gained fame for her acting and has been awarded two First Americans in the Arts Awards, the Maverick Award from the Los Angeles Women’s Theater Project, and a Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers Award. Arigon is the playwright, composer and performer in The Red Road, a wild, wacky musical. The play garnered rave reviews from the Los Angeles Times and Daily Variety and has toured across the U.S. and Australia. Arigon also wrote and performed two original plays in Red Ink, a compilation of contemporary Native stories produced by the Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis. Additionally, Starr has appeared on television in Showtime’s comedy, Barbershop: The Series and ABC’s General Hospital.
Native Voices at the Autry and the Native Radio Theater project teamed with Starr for Super Indian, a radio comedy series she created which was taped before a live audience and broadcast in 2007. In July 2009, Starr taped a live radio version of her one-woman show The Red Road, directed by award-winning director/producer Dirk Maggs.
In April 2011, Starr published Super Indian online as a webcomic. The comic has boasted a new panel every Monday continuously for almost five years. Super Indian Volume One was published in 2012 to immediate acclaim and has been added to the curricula of multiple colleges and universities across the United States and Canada. Her work has been highlighted in the publication like First American Art and featured on the national news program PBS News Hour and on the arts blog of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Super Indian was part of a special exhibition at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona in 2015 that featured Native American super heroes. Super Indian was also included in the DOI Goes Pop exhibit at the Department of the Interior Museum in Washington, DC, an exhibit at the Museum of the American Indian and the Form + Concept Gallery, both in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Super Indian Volume Two was published in 2015 and Volume Three is in production. Both volumes are part of educational curriculum in schools, colleges and universities across the US.
She is also one of the founders of the Indigenous Narratives Collective (INC), a group of Native American comic book writers and artists. INC has released a group project (“INC’s Universe #0”) and released Starr’s Annumpa Luma: Code Talker, the story of the first Choctaw Code Talkers as a mini-comic. The 12-page comic is part of a larger work, Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers, Volume One that was published by Native Realities Press. The book was edited by Arigon and also includes her contributions as a writer, artist, colorist and letterer. The anthology was named the Best Middle Grade book by the American Indian Library Association.
In 2017, Arigon was selected as a writer/artist of the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, sponsored by the George Kaiser Family Foundation. During her Fellowship, she wrote a romantic comedy about a Native family who relocates to 1950s Los Angeles titled Round Dance. The play was part of a staged reading and eventually fully produced by the Oklahoma Indian Theater Company in 2018. Arigon’s artwork was also included in exhibitions at the Oklahoma Contemporary and the Gilcrease Museum.
Her most recent work is illustration for the children’s book Contenders: Two Native Americans, One World Series. Written by Cherokee author Traci Sorell, the book tells the story of Charles Bender (Ojibwe) and John Meyers (Cahuilla), who faced each other in 1911 World Series. The book is published by Kokila Books, an imprint of Penguin/Random House Books and will be available April 11, 2023.
Arigon will also be featured in the upcoming second series of the PBS program Native America. The show will air nationally in 2023.
Arigon Starr is based in Los Angeles and is a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors Equity.