Okla. The Cherokee National Youth Choir released its 12th
CD during an Oct. 28 launch party at the Oklahoma Music Hall of
Fame. Cultural songs from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians inspired
the 12-track CD titled From the East.
The CD offers listeners an opportunity to experience songs from
the Cherokees ancestral homeland that are sung in the Cherokee
The launch party included a live performance by the 28-member
choir and Cherokee opera singer Barbara McAlister, who makes a special
performance on the album.
Kathy Sierra, Cherokee language teacher and CNYC travel coordinator,
said she first heard the songs being sung by EBCI citizen Marie
Junaluska at a Cherokee language meeting.
Ever since then, theyve been on mind to record them,
to get them collected and have the kids sing them, Sierra
Before the choir went into the studio to record, Sierra and
CNYC Director Mary Kay Henderson worked with choir members to prepare
them for their studio time.
We set the date months ahead of time when we know were
going to record, so they know in their mind when theyre going
to record and they should by then know their words, Sierra
has worked with and shared her Cherokee language knowledge with
the choir for 13 years. She said she sees the boys and girls she
mentors grow and that many of them let go of school projects and
organizations to concentrate solely on the choir.
Along with building their self-esteem, Sierra said members share
the Cherokee language with the world.
Garrett Million of Lowery said his two years singing with the choir
has been the most amazing experience.
I not only get to learn the Cherokee language, but I get
to share it with the rest of the country, and its an amazing
feeling, he said. Being able to visit all these places
has been insane.
The choir partook in the 2013 Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade
in New York City. Million said he had always wanted to visit New
York City and being able to perform in front of millions of people
was a memory he wont forget.
The choir also routinely sings with the nationally known singers
such as Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, classic rock group Foreigner
and the Oak Ridge Boys. Recently, it performed with the Tulsa Signature
Symphony at the Tulsa State Fair and with Nashville songwriter Becky
Hobbs at the Cherokee National Holiday.
Making the new CD was a fun experience, Million
said, because it allowed him to grow closer to other choir members,
especially newer members.
Melton of Leach has been singing with the choir for a year and a
half. She said making the CD in July was tiring but fun.
The recording session was like a longer practice session, she said,
but she enjoyed learning the songs and singing them. The song Prodigal
Son has approximately 10 verses and was hard to learn, she
said, but she welcomed the challenge.
I enjoy learning about our culture and the songs and everything.
I like the more upbeat songs, but I enjoy learning all of them,
Melton said. I just love being in the choir, love the traveling
and really appreciate being able to do it. Im really glad
I get to have my little sister (Lauren Melton) along with me to
The choir was founded in 2000 as a way to keep youth involved
with the Cherokee language and culture. Its previous CD Cherokee
America contained patriotic tunes and was released in 2012.
CNYC albums, including From the East, can be purchased
on iTunes. Individual choir members are selling the CD for $10.
Cherokee Nation Gift Shops are also selling it for $14.95.
The staff and choir members truly enjoyed creating the
album, and we hope listeners will enjoy the songs and feel the connection
to our brothers and sisters back east. They (songs) were very, very
old, so we decided we wanted to keep those songs and give them to
the kids so they would know where they came from, Henderson
For more information, call Henderson at 918-772-4172 or Sierra
at 918-453-5638 or email email@example.com.