By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
In the past few years, Cherokee has seen a surge of interest in musical theater and choral singing, due mainly in part to the programs going on at Cherokee Central Schools. The Cherokee Chamber Singers and the Cherokee Musical Theatre, both groups headed by Michael Yannette, Cherokee High School and Middle School director of choir and musical theater, have really upped the game for musical performance.
Their game has improved so much so that the Chamber Singers have been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall this upcoming March under the direction of famed conductor Dr. Andre’ Thomas.
“When we started this year, the theme was this is our year to really achieve a different level of musicianship,” Yannette told me during an interview in October.
The Chamber Singers have performed at many events around the rez including Veteran’s Day celebrations, the recent Ned Long Day celebration, numerous school events, and others. Each time, they never fail to impress.
The Cherokee Musical Theatre, featuring many of the same kids, started slowly several years ago, but is now performing to packed houses. Their recent “Short Attention Span Theatre” filled the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center and their spring performances of “Shrek: The Musical” are sure to do the same.
In short, the students in these programs are great ambassadors of not only Cherokee Central Schools but also the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. When they perform at Carnegie Hall, they will break down so many barriers and glass ceilings that the entire place might fall down. But, being the budding professionals that they are, they’ll keep in singing.
The trip to Carnegie is not cheap, however. The Chamber Singers need your help. A fundraiser page has been set up for them with the goal of raising $50,000: https://wefundthem.com/donate/cherokee-high-school
Yannette related during the recent “Short Attention Span Theatre” performance that the Office of Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed had donated $10,000 to their cause. Other small donations are beginning to come in, and every little bit helps!
Plato, the Greek philosopher, has been quoted as saying, “I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.”