Sequoyah graduate studying voice at OCU
OKLAHOMA CITY – Sometime in the coming years, Katelyn Morton hopes to entertain audiences through her singing and stage performances.
Morton, a Cherokee Nation citizen and 2018 Sequoyah High School graduate, is studying vocal music at Oklahoma City University.
“I want to tell stories through the songs I’m singing, the stories of the characters, and the story of myself,” Morton said. “That’s why I love singing so much. I’m telling stories to people, and I hope when they leave the theater they leave with more than what they walked in with.”
In her second semester, Morton is immersed in learning her crafts within OCU’s nationally renowned arts curriculum. “Coming to OCU has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” she said. “I had no knowledge of music theory before I came here. Now I know so much. Me at the beginning of the school year in August would be baffled by how much I know now. The education I have received is amazing, and I love the community here as well… They want you to succeed.”
Morton said she’s been involved with the CN since childhood. Family members have served as tribal councilors and advisers, authored books and supervised departments.
Her résumé includes two years with the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council.
“I became involved with the Cherokee National Youth Choir in eighth grade,” Morton said. “They taught me a lot about my culture. All the traveling I experienced, and singing in a language that we have to preserve. It was a wonderful experience for me.
“I got to represent my tribe and learn the workings of my tribe,” Morton added. “Here (at OCU), I’ve done Native American Heritage Week. I sang some traditional Cherokee songs and hymns that I learned while I was in the Cherokee National Youth Choir. I got to share that with some of my classmates.”
On Jan. 17, Morton was paired for half-hour one-on-one instructional trainings from OCU vocal coaches Joe Fitzgerald and Rachel Barnard.
“She comes into this studio twice a week, and we will work on her vocal technique,” Barnard said. “We work on classical, musical theater, popular music. With Kate, we have worked a lot on character and the acting side because she gets in her own head – as a lot of us do – with the technical side of the singing of her music. That’s just actually something that most undergraduate college students do at this stage.”
Barnard said many of her students are not as “advanced” as Morton.
“She had a lot of experience in high school, and she has had some private vocal training as well,” Barnard said. “Not all of the students I see come in with that kind of background. Most of my BA candidates are at about that level, but I also see a lot of actors and dancers that have not had a lot of voice training. I would say she is on the advanced end of my studio spectrum for sure.”
Morton said she has always sought the spotlight, and wanted to sing and act since her earliest years. She said two people who support her academic pursuit of vocal performance are Amanda Ray, SHS drama department director, and Barbara McAlister, the internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano and OCU alumnae.
“I was never in a drama department until I attended Sequoyah High School,” Morton said. “Mrs. Ray taught me so much about myself, and how to tell the story to the audience about the characters and how to make it seem real. She helped me grow and prosper as an actress. I love the support and knowledge that she has given me. I used to be such a quiet person. Now, I am not afraid to use this voice that I have, and I love that Barbara McAlister has given me so much confidence. She gave me all these tools to hone what I have. She has always supported me.”
However, Morton offered the most thanks to her mother, Kathryn Wood, whom she called her “absolute best friend.”
“She has supported me through everything and believes in me,” Morton said. “She is the solid foundation on which I can grow and prosper, because I have her support always. She has always pushed me and driven me, and I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for her.”