By Paul Roberts
Special to The PREVIEW
Join musician and music therapist Paul Roberts for a free hand-drumming class at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at noon.
The class offers a welcoming environment that encourages fun, creativity, playfulness and connecting with others. Drums are provided for those who do not have one. Designed as an opportunity for people of all ages to unleash their creativity, the drumming class is a family-friendly activity open to all ages. No previous experience is necessary.
“We n’ de ya ho, We n’ de ya ho,
“We n’ de ya, We n’ de ya, Ho ho ho ho,
“He ya ho, He ya ho, Ya ya ya”
“Wedeyaho” is a beautiful Cherokee song. The words mean “I am of the Great Spirit.” Rita Coolidge renamed it “Cherokee Morning Song” and recorded it with her sister Priscilla Coolidge and Priscilla’s daughter Laura Satterfield in 1997. Inspired to honor their Cherokee ancestry and spread awareness about Native American culture through music, the trio of singers named their group Walela, which means “hummingbird” in Cherokee. “Cherokee Morning Song” was released on the group’s album, “Walela.”
Over 100 years before Walela recorded “Cherokee Morning Song,” a young girl who lived near the shore of the Mississippi River went to sleep each night enchanted by the drumming of Sioux Indians who were camped nearby. This made such an impression on her that she devoted her life to the study and preservation of Native American music. She recorded thousands of songs and wrote voluminously about Native music for the Bureau of American Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution. Her name was Frances Densmore and her life’s work stands as a monumental resource for Native American music.
“Indian songs are not petrified specimens,” wrote Densmore. “They are alive with the warm red blood of human nature. Indian music is not an art in our sense of the term. The old Indians received their songs in dreams from the bird or animal that appears in the dream. It has a purpose, such as bringing rain, calling the buffalo or healing the sick. The Indian believes that music puts him in communication with the mysterious forces of the earth, air and sea.”
One of the foremost experts on Native American music, Densmore’s recordings are known as the Smithsonian-Densmore collection. They are archived at the Library of Congress. A book entitled “Frances Densmore and American Indian Music,” available online, is a fascinating read.
Indigenous songs provide inspiration for tapping into our true potential and the hand-drumming class is always interested in expanding its repertoire.
The Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association (PLPOA) Clubhouse is located at 230 Port Ave. For more information about the hand-drumming class, please call Paul Roberts at 731-3117.
By Paul Roberts