KANSAS CITY – Chickasaw Tabitha Fair and nine members of the Chickasaw Youth Choir joined Native American entertainers, drum corps, dancers, and a Native honor guard when the Kansas City Chiefs celebrated Native American Heritage Month.
Fair and the youth choir sang the national anthem when the Chiefs played the Jets at Arrowhead Stadium in November, 2014.
Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said he is very pleased the Kansas City Chiefs organization has taken the initiative to collaborate with respected Native groups and individuals to honor American Indian heritage.
“We are very pleased that Tabitha Fair and the Chickasaw Nation Youth Choir have the opportunity to take part in this event which recognizes the important role Native Americans play in American society,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “America is a great nation in large part because it has been endowed with a rich legacy of people from diverse cultures who share a commitment to freedom, justice and opportunity.”
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EXCITEMENT AND BUTTERFLIES
“I’m really excited about performing and it is such a wonderful opportunity for me and the Chickasaw Nation. It is going to be a blast,” Fair said from her New York City home.
She’s nervous and admits it – this from a woman who has graced both domestic and international stages to sing with celebrated performers such as Amy Grant, Faith Hill, Lee Ann Womack, Trisha Yearwood, Carole King, Travis Tritt, Michael McDonald, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow, Sting, Snoop Dog, Debra Henry … (whew) … and contributed her songwriting skills alongside Grammy award-winning songwriters and producers.
Fair has not yet experienced the delight of entertaining with the Chickasaw Nation Youth Choir. She can now add it to the exhaustive list of entertainment royalty with whom she frequently collaborates, rubs elbows, pens tunes and entertains with on stage while steadily maneuvering toward a break out solo career.
When “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” needed backup vocalists for The Roots, she was summoned. When “America’s Got Talent” needed talent to back up the talent, Fair answered that call, too.
While earning a nice living doing backup vocals, Fair is spreading her wings. As a solo artist with original music on the menu, Fair is serving up a blend of church-inspired soul, country gospel and rhythm and blues to sell-out crowds in New York City night clubs.
KANSAS CITY HERE WE COME
Phillip Berryhill, Chickasaw Nation choir conductor, received a telephone call from Fair a few days ago.
During that conversation, he was informed what the a cappella arrangement will be for the choir members performing backup vocals.
They’ll have plenty of time to rehearse. The drive to Kansas City from Ada, Oklahoma, is about six hours.
The vocalists are Lauren Burden, Bailey McCurdy, Cora Moldenhauer, Gabrielle Padilla, Micah Postoak, Ashton Rawlins, Faithlyn Seawright, Taylor Taliaferro and Izy Wilkerson.
“We’ll leave Saturday at 7 a.m. and be singing in the car the whole way,” Berryhill said with a laugh.
Yet, the song leader is serious about the opportunity accorded his students by Fair and the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It will be a great experience for the kids,” he observed. “A lot of these students come from small towns and small schools. They are being given an opportunity to shine musically on a national stage. It doesn’t happen often. That teaches students something else – sometimes that one moment arrives and when it happens, you better be prepared.”
The key is E. That key has four sharps. Even the relative minor is sharped.
The song is notoriously difficult to sing. The average shower crooner does not have the one octave and 5-step vocal range to sing it flawlessly.
Even Fair makes mention of cringe-worthy performances of professional singers who flubbed it. She knows why though and has the solution.
“Sing the melody. Certainly, put your emotions, feelings and soul into it, but keep true to the song. It (The Star-Spangled Banner) is complicated enough with phrases written in old English verse so why make it more complicated,” she questions out loud.
It is not the first time Fair has performed America’s signature tune. By staying true to the song’s fundamental musical structure and basic melody, the beauty of it tugs hearts and minds without attempting difficult vocal gymnastics.
“We will have a few hours to rehearse together before we perform Sunday and I am so proud my tribe was asked to perform at this wonderful event celebrating Native Americans, their heritage and contributions.” Fair said. “It will be a very special day.”
About Tabitha Fair and Chickasaw Nation Youth Choir