Actress and award-winning singer Paula Bowers-Sanchez continues taking her talent beyond Seminole reservations.
To further her list of impressive accolades, Bowers-Sanchez performed alongside John McEuen from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band at the Grand Ole Opry on June 2. Accompanying her were her agent Marilyn McEuen, who is John’s wife, country singer Alison Krauss and Grammy Award-winning Native American musician Bill Miller.
Bowers-Sanchez and Marilyn McEuen performed backup for the band, singing classic songs like “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life.” This was Bowers-Sanchez’s first performance at the Opry, which she described as an enjoyable success. She and Marilyn said performing at the historical venue was an emotional experience.
“It’s a big deal to get invited to perform,” Marilyn explained. “It was an honor for John to have Paula on stage. We are true Native American lovers and we’ve worked with the Seminole Tribe for countless years now.”
The Grand Ole Opry started as a radio station in 1925 in Nashville. Numerous country legends, including Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Bill Anderson, performed at the venue over the years, and still, artists throughout the world aspire to be on stage at the legendary Opry House. While Bowers-Sanchez said this was definitely a significant and memorable experience for her, it is certainly not the last of her ventures.
“I want to be an accomplished person,” she explained. “I like to keep busy and I definitely don’t just like sitting idly by.”
Prior to this performance, she acted in “The Fast and the Furious,” “Jag,” “ER,” “Without a Trace,” and “Bad Boys II,” during which time she provided celebrities Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith with honorary Seminole jackets. She also has one album, self-titled with her traditional Native American name, Shima Fula. Her music is available on iTunes.
Aside from her creative career, Bowers-Sanchez also obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology from New York University, a master’s degree in mental health counseling from Nova Southeastern University and started her own production company, Corn Dance Productions. As her range of interests demonstrates a full and occasionally hectic schedule, Bowers-Sanchez said having her family’s support is what keeps her motivated to keep pushing forward.
“You can’t do anything without your family,” she said. “At the end of the day, you need that stability. No matter what you do, you always have that positive support system at home.”
And for Bowers-Sanchez, family is not confined to those whom she lives with. As she is 100 percent Seminole, her Tribal family is just as important to her and she said that keeping the Native American story alive is a crucial part to her accomplishments.
The singer and actress lived on the Brighton Reservation until she was 5 years old, at which time she moved to Hollywood, where she remains today. She said that she wants to use her roots to encourage younger Tribal members to continue with higher education and pursue as many accomplishments as possible. She explained that pursuing success may not be easy, but it helps individuals grow.
“Anybody you ask who has been successful didn’t get there without mistakes,” she said.
Marilyn said she admires Bowers-Sanchez’s dedication to the Tribe, as being a Tribal member is something to be proud of and to value.
“I’ve always valued her remarkable persistence to keep the story of the Seminoles alive. No matter the capacity, the Seminole Indian tribe is the core of her life. She wants to be the example to other members of the Tribe,” Marilyn said. “It’s so important to take your heritage and take it to the forefront…Paula lives an exemplary life.”