Cherokee singer on way to recording her music

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
02/21/2019 08:45 AM
Audio Clip
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee singer Natahne Arrowsmith has been singing since she was a child and has studied music, which has led her to a singing career. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Natahne Arrowsmith, a Cherokee singer from Rohnert Park, California, is part of a group called Dark Mondays and is recording music with her husband Russell Adamson, left, and producer/engineer Murray Orrick, right, of The Grove Studio. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The band Dark Mondays includes the vocals of Cherokee singer Natahne Arrowsmith of Rohnert Park, California. The band is recording its second EP to be released in the spring. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee singer Natahne Arrowsmith collaborates with her husband Russell Adamson to write and record music in Rohnert Park, California. The pair are a part of a group called Dark Mondays. COURTESY
ROHNERT PARK, Calif. – Natahne Arrowsmith has been singing since she could talk, which led her to studying music and now singing with a group called Dark Mondays.

“It’s mostly acoustic, and it’s all of my heartbreak songs. It’s not necessarily going to be an uplifting one, but hopefully it will be pretty,” the Cherokee singer said describing her music.

She also describes the music she and her husband Russell Adamson write and produce as indie-folk. The group’s five-song EP “Come Sundown” was released in September, and its second EP will release this spring.

In November, the group also released “Dark Merry,” which includes the Christmas songs “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells.”

People can find Dark Mondays’ music at http://www.darkmondaysmusic.com/ and on iTunes, Spotify, Napster, Tidal, Napster, Google Play and Deezer.

“I’ve been singing since I could talk. I started studying music when I was around 8 or 9 years old. I had voice lessons and joined every choir I could find, did musical theater as a child and in high school and college,” she said. “I made a few attempts to write when I was in my 20s and 30s and just got distracted by kids, then work and everything else.”

After moving to Rohnert Park north of San Francisco, she wrote poetry and short stories about her Cherokee mother who passed away four years ago. Then she heard an interview with the singer Sia, who described her songwriting process and how she plays the piano and starts “making funny noises and then she would start humming.”

“Those hums became vowel sounds, and then those vowel sounds would become words, and then the song would just come to her. And I thought, OK, I always did it backwards where you wrote the lyrics first and then you try to create the music around it, and that was never working for me,” Arrowsmith, 44, said. “So, I just sat down with my ukulele and started playing cords that sounded good together and kind of looped them all together and did that. I started humming and started oohing and aahing and then those became words and then that became one of the songs on the EP we released, which is called ‘Anything,’ and it’s about my mom.”

She said using this method took her about 20 minutes to write the song, which impressed her husband. “I showed him the chords, and he started playing. We always used to play music together, but we’d always cover other people’s things. That’s kind of what I felt like I was good at was taking other people’s songs and just arranging them differently and doing them how I would do them. After that song was written, I would just sit down every couple of days and do the same thing and see what happened, and 17 songs later I had all this music.”

She said it was “a process” to find a producer who understood what she wanted to do with her songs and help her make a bigger sound beyond her ukulele and produce what she was “hearing in her head.” Eventually she found producer/engineer Murray Orrick of The Grove Studio.

Arrowsmith said she would like to collaborate with other artists, and is looking at doing a cover album because that’s how the band started playing music together.

“It’s just hard to get permission to use other people’s music,” she said. “I’m just kind of interested in putting it out there and seeing where it takes us and to sing as many things as I can.”

Some of her favorite songs to cover with her ukulele are “Boys Don’t Cry” by the Cure, “You’re the One That I Want” from the movie “Grease” and the song “Funny Valentine.”

“I really like changing the song. I feel like the original artist did it the way they wanted to do it, so if you’re going to do a cover, you might as well really play with it and make it your own,” she said.

She said making music allows her to be an artist and show the world Native people are just like everyone else, as opposed to “the Hollywood or stigmatized definition of whatever a non-Native might think a Native person is.”

“We are not mythical creatures, we are present, current everyday people. We are doctors, teachers, artists, carpenters, etc.,” she said. “Music and art have always been an important part of being Cherokee for me. Like most cultures, it’s how we express ourselves and use the things around us in daily life to tell stories about people we know and things we’ve experienced and seen.”

She said her mother gave her a good foundation for what it is to be Cherokee even though she was raised in California. Arrowsmith said her mom told her people would judge her she and ask about blood quantum.

“She would just tell me you wake up every day and you’re Cherokee. You know what’s in your heart, and you know what it is to be Cherokee,” she said. “For me or for us, that meant we honor who we are and we honor the earth and we honor our mothers. We just try to walk in beauty every day and do ourselves proud.”
ᏣᎳᎩ

Rohnert Park, ᎠᏕᎳ ᏧᏢᎢ.- ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎬ ᎤᎴᏅ ᎾᎯᏳ ᎤᎴᏅᎮ ᏕᎧᏃᎩᏍᎬ Natahne Arrowsmith. 8ᏁᎳ ᎠᎴ 9ᏁᎳ ᎢᏳᏕᏘᏴᏛ ᏥᎨᏒ ᎤᎴᏅᎮ ᏓᎦᏎᏍᏗᏍᎩ ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏛ.

ᎦᎸᎾᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏬᎴᏅ ᏗᎧᏁᏍᏗ ᏚᏃᏴᎬ ᏚᏕᎳᏆᎡᎢ. ᏂᎦᎥᏊ ᏗᏂᏃᎩᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎠᏖᎳᏗᏍᎨᎢ. Dark Mondays ᏧᎾᏙᎢᏛ ᏗᏂᏃᎩᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏍᎩ ᎢᎩ Natahne.

ᎠᎾᎦᎵᏍᎩ ᏂᏗᎫᏓᎸᎾ ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏍᏙᏗ ᏓᏅᏗᏍᎪᎢ. ᎤᏲᎢ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏓᏛ ᎧᏃᎮᏍᎩ ᏕᏥᏃᎩᏍᎪᎢ.

ᏝᏃ ᎣᏓᏅᏛ ᎠᏓᏌᎳᏗᏍᎩ ᏱᎨᏐᎢ. ᎠᏎᏃ ᎠᏬᎯᏳᏐ ᎤᏬᏚᎯ ᎨᏒ ᎧᏃᎩᏛ ᎠᏗᏍᎨᎢ ᎠᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏍᎩ.

ᎠᏂᏁᎵ Russell Adamson ᎤᎾᎵᎪᎯ ᏓᏃᏪᎵᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏂᏂᏗᏍᎪ ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏛ Indie-folk ᎠᏃᏎᏐᎢ. ᎯᎠ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎯᏍᎩ-ᎧᏃᎩᏛ EP ᏧᏂᏂᏔᏅ ᏧᏂᏃᎩᏛ “Come Sundown” ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏄᏅᏁᎴᎢ ᏚᎵᏍᏗ ᎧᎸᎢ. ᏔᎵᏁ EP ᏧᏂᏂᏔᏅ ᎧᏃᎩᏛ ᎪᎨᏱ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏂᏛᏅᏁᎵ.

ᏅᏓᏕᏆ ᎧᎸ ᎯᎠ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᏗᏂᏃᎩᏍᎩ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏄᏅᏁᎴᎢ ᏧᏂᏂᏔᏅ ᎧᏃᎩᏛ “Dark Merry,” ᏓᏂᏍᏓᏲᎯᎲ ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏍᏗ ᏓᏠᏯᏍᏗ “ᎡᏢᏪ ᏒᏃᏱ” ᎠᎴ “ᏧᏯᎸᏂ” ᏴᏫ ᏳᎾᏚᎵ ᏧᏂᏩᏛᏗ ᎯᎠ “Dark Mondays” ᏧᏂᏃᎩᏛ ᎯᎠ ᎬᏙᏗ. iTunes, Spotify, Napster, Tidal, Napster, Google Play and Deezer.

ᏞᎦᏃ ᎠᏆᏁᎸᏔᏅ ᎧᏃᎮᏢᏍᎩ ᏗᏬᏪᎶᏗᎢ. ᎠᏎᏃ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ, ᏓᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᎠᎴ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎠᎩᏲᏍᏓᏁᎸᎩ ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Natahne.

ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏌ Rohnert Park ᏭᏂᎷᏤᎢ, ᎠᎿᏃ ᎤᎴᏅᎮ ᏕᎪᏪᎵᏍᎬ, ᎯᎸᏍᎩ ᏍᏆᎳᎢ ᎧᏃᎮᏛ ᏚᏬᏪᎳᏁᎢ ᎤᏥZ ᎧᏃᎮᎬᎢ. ᎤᏥᏃ ᎠᏣᎳᎩ ᎨᏎᎢ. ᎤᎩ ᏧᏕᏗᏴᏓ ᎢᎩ ᏁᎲᎾ ᏥᏅᎵᏍᏓᏅ ᎤᏥ.

Sia ᏧᏙᎢᏛ ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏍᎩ ᎣᎩᎾᏟᏃᎮᏢᎢ, ᎠᏇᏲᏅᎢ ᏯᏆᏛᏁᏗ ᎧᏃᎩᏍᏗ ᎠᏬᏪᎶᏗᎢ.

Ukulele ᎬᏗ ᏃᎴ ᎠᏆᏚᏩᏍᏗ ᎠᏆᎴᏅᎲ ᏕᏥᏃᎩᏍᎬ oohing ᎠᎴ aahing ᎾᎿᏃ ᏭᏓᎴᏅᎲ ᏗᎧᏁᏗ ᏂᏕᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᎬ. 20 ᎢᏯᏔᏬᏍᏔᏅ ᎤᎯᎵᏙᎴ ᎪᏪᎵᏍᎬ ᎯᎠ ᎧᏃᎩᏛ “Anything” ᎤᏥᏃ ᎧᏃᎮ ᏕᎧᏃᎩᏍᎬᎢ. 17 ᎢᎦ ᏧᏬᏢᎯᏌᏅ ᏚᏬᏪᎳᏁ ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏛ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᏗᏂᏃᎩᏍᎩ ᏧᏂᏃᎩᏛ.

ᏍᏓᏱᏃ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏣᏛᏗ ᎩᎶ ᏗᎪᏢᏍᎩ. ᎦᏂᎵᏃ ᏥᏩᏛᎲ ᏗᎪᏢᏍᎩ/ᏗᎯᎴᎩ Murry Orrick ᏧᏙᎢᏛ Grove Studio ᏧᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎠᏗᏍᎨᎢ Natahne Arrowsmith.

ᏍᏓᏱᏃ ᎢᎩ ᎠᏂᏐ ᏗᏂᏃᎩᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᎵᏍᎪᏓᏁᏗ ᏧᏂᏃᎩᏛ ᏗᎪᏢᎯᏐᏗ ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Natahne.

ᏦᎢ ᏫᏓᎩᎸᏉᏛ ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏛ ᏯᏆᏚᎵ ᏗᏉᏢᎯᏍᏐᏗ ukulele ᏗᎧᏃᎩᏍᏙᏗ ᎬᏗᏍᎬᎢ.

“Boys Don’t Cry,” “You’re The One I Want” “ᏃᎴ Funny Valentine” ᏕᎧᏃᎩᏍᎬ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏂᏕᎬᏁᎰ ᎠᏂᏐ ᏴᏫ ᏄᏍᏛ ᎠᏁᎲ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ.

ᎢᎦᏛ ᎠᏂᎦᎾᎦᏘ, ᏗᎾᏕᏲᎲᏍᎩ, ᏗᎾᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅᏍᎩ, ᏗᎾᏁᏍᎨᏍᎩ ᎢᎩ etc., ᎤᏥᏃ ᎤᏃᏎᎴ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏧᎾᎳᏏᏙᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ. ᏂᏚᎩᏨᏂᏒ ᏱᏣᏰᏣ ᎯᏣᎳᎩ ᎨᏐᎢ.

ᏣᏅᏔ ᎸᏍᏛ ᏣᏓᎤᏛ ᏣᎾᏫ ᏂᏓᏳᏓᎴᏅ.ᏣᏅᏔ ᎯᏣᎳᎩ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏗᏍᎨᎢ.
ᎠᏯ ᏃᎴ ᎾᏂᎥᏊ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗ ᎢᎩᏱᎸᏐ ᎢᏗᏣᎳᎩ ᎨᏒ ᏃᎴ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗ ᎢᎩᏱᎨᎸᏐ ᎠᎭᏂ ᎡᎶᎯ, ᎠᎴ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗ ᏕᏗᏰᎸᏐ ᎢᎩᏥ. ᎤᏬᏚᏒ ᎬᏂᎩᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎣᏣᏁᎸᏗᏍᎪ ᎣᎦᏂᎩᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎣᏍᏛ ᏙᎦᏓᏰᎸᏐᎢ.

– Translated by Phyllis Edwards

About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He e ...
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He e ...

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