ROCK The wife of a former tribal chairman announced Sunday
she will spearhead the drive to form a fan club for a 19-year-old
Navajo woman who won the top honor at the Native American Music
Association's annual competition this year.
MacDonald, wife of former Chairman Peter MacDonald, joined her husband
at the dinner in the Peterson Zah-Navajo Nation Museum-Library as
about 80 relatives and friends honored Marlena Begay for her birthday
and being the best of the five finalists in the new artists debut
category of the NAMY's, modeled after the Grammys.
an Aztec, N.M., High School senior, was so overwhelmed that she
devoted her entire speech to thanking everyone, including her parents
and other relatives she is the youngest of 11 children as well as
her music producer and band.
album, entitled simply "Marlena," was among 30 entered in the sixth
annual competition, according to Murphy Platero, whose small new
company produced the album. Begay signed with his firm three years
ago, he said.
to Platero, it is a monumental achievement to have a Christian gospel
album win such a prestigious award. Begay's success also means many
doors will be opened.
as an elder statesman, Peter MacDonald said he appreciated being
invited because Begay's abilities and talents "give credit not only
to her parents and her relatives, but the Navajo Nation as well."
added, "We have many brilliant and talented Navajo young people
and need to recognize their achievements and success. It's one way
to build a nation; it's one way to succeed in life. All of us have
children and would like to see them succeed in life."
long-time Diné leader admitted, "I love to hear Marlena sing."
sang at his homecoming reception when he returned to Tuba City after
his release in January from a federal prison in Texas when Bill
Clinton commuted his 14-year sentence at its mid-point during the
last hours of his presidency.
said, "When I came back, she gave me a boost to get going back into
life," adding that he wished his words to also be a boost for her.
always wonderful to receive recognition from elders. But it's a
lot more motivating to be recognized and honored by young people.
That's why it was special for us to have her there with us in Tuba
City," he added.
also took note of Begay now being a role model and closed by leading
the audience in singing "Happy Birthday" to her. She actually turned
19 on Dec. 12, her mother said.
special guests included her parents, Kee and Ella Begay, the Native
American Veterans of the Vietnam War, Aaron Woods, Rex Redhair (the
Navajo Elvis), Alesia Sullivan, (Kayenta) Miss Monument Valley High
School Princess, who sang the "Star Spangled Banner" in Navajo,
Consuela Chacon, Miss Navajo Area Native American Festival Princess,
and Shermaine Begay of Greasewood Springs and a Holbrook High School
senior, who is Miss Southwestern Navajo.
the dinner the bands "State Line" and "Silver Wings" played in the
Marlena's website to learn more about her.