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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 28, 2002 - Issue 77


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"Building One Fire"

Note: This is a beautiful album. These youth are indeed Ambassadors for the Cherokee Nation.
"Building One Fire" CD CoverTAHLEQUAH, OK - The release of Building One Fire, the second album by the Cherokee National Youth Choir, comes on the heels of a very exciting time for the group. In September of 2002, the accolades for their work hit an all-time high, when their first album, Voices of The Creator's Children featuring Rita Coolidge, took the top award for "Best Gospel/Christian Recording" at The 5th Annual Native American Music Awards, ("NAMMY's") in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Based on the early response to Building One Fire, the Cherokee National Youth Choir has made another great musical statement that will promote Cherokee language and culture, and further their role as "Ambassadors" for the Cherokee Nation.

Building One Fire represents not only the artistic and musical growth of the Cherokee National Youth Choir, but it also is a "coming-of-age" project for the group, as they replace the word "Children" in their name with "Youth," reflecting the fact that the choir members are now becoming young adults, reaching out to a worldwide audience. As with their first record, the choir works with a featured entertainer on Building One Fire, showcasing the talents of Gil Silverbird, a noted musical performer, composer, actor, entertainer, and musical director of Navajo, Apache and Cherokee descent. Silverbird has toured nationally and internationally with the Native American Dance Theatre and John Tesh's "One World Tour." His resume includes voice-over credits for commercials for MTV, TV Guide, McDonalds, and audio books for author, Tony Hillerman. As an actor, Silverbird has also been featured in many television, film and off-Broadway productions, including The Sopranos, The Royal Tannenbaums and The King and the Indian. Silverbird currently resides in New York City where he is acting and working on his music.

The production for Building One Fire began in the Spring of 2002, at Cimarron Sound Lab studio, in Tahlequah, and was brought into sharper focus when the choir made a goodwill trip in May, to New York City and Washington DC to commemorate the lives of those that were changed forever with the events of 9-11, and to offer their songs of peace and comfort to the Nation's Capitol. While in New York, the choir met Silverbird, and he served as a charming, unofficial "tour guide," for the "Big Apple." It soon became apparent to the members of the Youth Choir that this was the person who they wanted to help them chart the course for the sound of their new CD. Discussions between Silverbird, Music Director, Janice Ballou, Artistic Director, Jamie McGee-Geneva, and Project Producer, Jeffrey Gray Parker began to take shape about a collaboration between Silverbird and the Youth Choir. Silverbird agreed to come to Tahlequah later, to complete the CD. In New York, the choir said prayers at "Ground Zero," performed at several firehouses, and recorded a live performance of "America" for the project at The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian. As the tour continued on to Washington, DC, the choir sang "The Star Spangled Banner," at the Department of the Interior, and that performance, which is a wonderous blending of English and Cherokee, perfectly captured the essence of the trip, and gave deeper meaning for the title of the CD, Building One Fire.

Building One Fire opens with a narrative by Silverbird of a speech written by Chad "Corntassel" Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, and segues into beautiful gospel songs, some delivered acapella in Cherokee and English, and others with instrumental backing from Silverbird on keyboards, Parker on guitars and mandolin, and bassist, Don Morris. Midway through the CD, the group delivers a unique Cherokee rendition of the universal favorite, "I'll Fly Away." The live recordings are prefaced by a spoken word introduction by McGee-Geneva, and the CD concludes with a poignant reading by Silverbird of "The Future of the Cherokee Nation," which was written by Redbird Smith, in 1918.

The Cherokee Nation has enlisted the services of TERO contractor, Cimarron Sound Lab, LLC (who is collaborating with a sub-contractor, The Clif Doyal Agency of Nashville, TN) to create a national and international campaign to expose Building One Fire to radio, press, television, Internet, and other outlets. The CD is available through Four Winds Trading Company, Drumbeat Indian Arts, and, among other national retailers.

For more information about the project, please contact Jamie McGee-Geneva, Program Director for the Cherokee National Children's Choir at (918) 696-3390 or by e-mail at

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