TAHLEQUAH – After its initial announcement earlier this year, Horton Records in collaboration with Jeremy Charles hosted an album release party for the first ever all-Cherokee music album “Anvdvnelisgi” on Sept. 3 during the 70th Annual Cherokee National Holiday.
“Anvdvnelisgi” is a groundbreaking, contemporary music album with original songs performed in the Cherokee language. The title of the album translates to “performers.”
Charles, a Cherokee Nation citizen and owner of FireThief productions, said it’s been nearly a year and a half of work on this album.
“Honestly it’s such a relief and it’s a celebration,” Charles said. “We’re very excited. All the work has been done and now it’s time for fun.”
Charles added there are 12 artists featured on the album and 10 of them are non-Cherokee speaking. Each one worked with a fluent speaker and translator to translate their featured song from English to Cherokee.
“It was really fun for them because they worked very closely with fluent language speakers,” Charles said. “They were translating from English then they were rewriting to make it more sing-able and more understandable, they were critiquing syllables and all the way up to recording day. Then we went through an approval process with the language department.”
Cherokee National Holiday attendees were able to attend the free concert at One Fire field and hear different genres of music all in the Cherokee language ranging from Pop, R&B, Hip-Hop, Folk/Americana, Country, Reggae and Metal.
“It’s a little something for everybody,” Charles said. “This album has genres of all interests and that was kind of the point because we want to make sure that people are inspired by what’s possible. I don’t think very many people perform in Cherokee besides the traditional hymns and ceremonial songs.”
Colby Luper, who sings heavy metal, has a song on the album he performed called “Uktena” that is derived from traditional Cherokee stories.
“I just took some stories that I heard about the uktena from Cherokee tradition, and I just wrote songs about those stories,” Luper said. “The process of translating my song may have been a little bit easier than some of the others because my song already had the Cherokee theme.”
Luper said he pursues music outside of work and was approached by Charles to work on a song for the album.
“Knowing that I’m Cherokee and a musician that creates original music, whenever Jeremy started up this project for ‘Anvdvnelisgi,’ he reached to me and asked would you be interested in this. So, then he teamed me up with a speaker/translator, and we just got to work on translating one of my songs into Cherokee,” Luper said.
Two of the artists on the album wrote original songs in the Cherokee language without having to translate them, which includes Agalisiga Mackey and Zebadiah Nofire. Mackey said country singer Jimmie Rodgers inspired the song he contributed titled, “Gatlohiha.”
“I think writing songs in Cherokee is easier than writing them in English and then putting them into Cherokee,” Mackey said. “But I really respect the folks that had to put their songs from English into Cherokee. That’s hard stuff. That’s a hard thing to do.”
Mackey said his goal is to inspire people to speak or write their own music in their Native language.
“My goal is to get language in the face of the people and hopefully inspire anyone of any age to start speaking and even make songs in the language or their own Native language if they’re not Cherokee,” Mackey said.
Limited CDs and T-shirts designed specifically for the Cherokee National Holiday were sold during the concert. Pre-orders for limited edition vinyl are being sold now at hortonrecords.org. “Anvdvnelisgi” will release worldwide on Oct. 21 on CD as well as on all digital platforms.