By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The stage and spotlight are nothing new to Cece Lambert. She has been performing with the Cherokee Chamber Singers and as part of the Musical Theatre Program at Cherokee Central Schools for years. But, she was on a national stage, albeit a virtual stage, on Monday, Aug. 17 as she represented the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and all of Indian Country while singing the national anthem to open the Democratic National Convention (DNC).
While the other young singers were shown on screen with their state name below their face, Lambert was shown with “Cherokee” below hers. Several years ago, she and the rest of the Chamber Singers performed a piece entitled “Si Otsedoha” which translates from the Cherokee language as “We’re Still Here”.
Lambert continued that message of ‘we’re still here’ while singing for the world at the DNC.
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to interview her numerous times for a variety of shows and concerts. One quote she gave me in September 2018, prior to the Chambers Singers starting a string of performances with the North Carolina Symphony, really rings true.
“One of the biggest messages that we found personally was that we’re trying to tell people that we’re still here because a lot of people still view us as not being real – that Native Americans are made-up or that we’re extinct by now.”
She continued, “We really want people to know that we’re not the Indians that they portray us as on TV, and we’re not the Indians that they come to sight-see. We’re actual people. We’re our own sovereign nation, and we’re trying to be a part of modern society if people will let us.”
Lambert graduated with high honors from Cherokee High School (CHS) in May.
Michael Yannette, Cherokee Chamber Singers director, who directed Lambert while she was at CHS, said, “I have to applaud the DNC for making a commitment to wanting to include a singer from the Native American nations and not just the representatives of the 50 states. They contacted me only a few days before they needed a recording and were looking specifically for a very talented person with a specific voice part. Cece fit the bill perfectly and they absolutely loved her! She did the recording within 24 hours of receiving the music just like a pro!”
He added, “I am very, very proud of her! She represented the Cherokee community, the Cherokee Chamber Singers, and Native nations through the United States beautifully!”
The CHS Class of 2020 motto was “Don’t talk, just act. Don’t say, just show. Don’t promise just prove.”
Well, with her worldwide performance, Lambert took action showing the world her talent and proving that Cherokee people and all Native Americans not only still exist but thrive.