McAlister given key to Muskogee

06/12/2019 11:00 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Barbara McAlister, Cherokee Nation citizen and CN Vocal Class instructor, performs a “welcome” song for those attending the Vocal Class’s spring recital on April 28, 2016, in Tahlequah. McAlister was presented the key to Muskogee by Mayor Janey Cagle-Boydston in early June. ARCHIVE
MUSKOGEE – World renowned opera singer Barbara McAlister was given the key to Muskogee June 3 for recognition of her “outstanding achievement in public life” and for furthering “the ideals of the city.”

Mayor Janey Cagle-Boydston said McAlister, a 2019 Governor’s Award recipient, “has highly elevated the arts in our community and in our state.” The mayor touted McAlister’s talents as a singer who has performed for audiences around the world and a visual artist who has exhibited her work at galleries in the United States and Europe.

“Barbara through her talents has greatly influenced the future of the arts through her voice and her performance instruction – she hasn’t hurt Muskogee any either,” Cagle-Boydston said when she presented the key to McAlister. “Barbara’s talent and reputation has highly elevated the arts in our community and in our state.”

The Muskogee native and enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation traveled the world after winning the prestigious Loren Zachary competition. She performed at opera houses in Germany, France, Italy and Hong Kong in addition to iconic American venues like Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center.

“Before I traveled there I came back to Muskogee, and I stopped by Honor Heights, picked up some dirt, and I put it in a little bottle,” McAlister said, describing how she carried that bottle of dirt wherever she traveled. “Only recently at my young age did I realize that home is where the heart is – you don’t need to take a piece of dirt with you.”

McAlister, who in 2013 was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, said the key was a reminder of her childhood in Muskogee, where she rode her “horse at full gallop” and “was free as a bird.” McAlister said she is happy to be back home and “back to my freedom here.” – REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION


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