TAHLEQUAH, OK — The award-winning Cherokee National Youth Choir (CNYC) will hold auditions for the upcoming year on Tuesday, January 13, from 3 to 8 p.m. in the Tribal Council Chambers, located in the Cherokee Nation complex on highway 62 south of Tahlequah.

 “This is a wonderful opportunity for Cherokee youth,” said Mary Kay Henderson, choir director. “The Cherokee National Youth Choir is a wonderful way for students to learn the Cherokee language and act as ambassadors of our great nation. I encourage students to participate. We have a lot of fun and it is truly a learning experience that choir members will carry with them throughout their lives.”

To audition, students must be enrolled citizens of the Cherokee Nation, be in grades six through 11 and live in the 14-county jurisdictional area of the Cherokee Nation. A copy of the participant’s tribal citizenship card must be presented at the time of the audition.

The Cherokee National Youth Choir performs traditional Cherokee songs in the Cherokee language. The CNYC was formed from the vision of Principal Chief Chad Smith in order to keep children involved in the Cherokee language and culture and provide an important symbol to the world, demonstrating that Cherokee language and culture continue to thrive in modern society.

Since it was founded in 2000, the group has recorded six CDs, including Voices of the Creator’s Children, featuring two-time Grammy® Award winner Rita Coolidge, which garnered two Native American Music Awards (NAMMY) nominations and a win for “Best Gospel Christian Recording” in 2002. In total, the group has received four NAMMYs.  Precious Memories, an acapella compilation, was released in 2007.

Members of the Youth Choir act as ambassadors for the Cherokee Nation, their harmonic voices demonstrating the strength of the Cherokee Nation and its culture more than 160 years after the Cherokees’ forced removal from its eastern homelands.

The goal of the choir is to increase awareness of Cherokee culture both within the Cherokee Nation as well as among the dominant culture.  

Through the success of the group, interest in the Cherokee language has been rekindled among young people throughout the Cherokee Nation. Several area schools now use the CDs as learning tools, and other schools are interested in developing curriculum to teach Cherokee language and music.

 “I can’t tell you enough what a wonderful opportunity this is for young people,” said Henderson. “I look forward to seeing you all at the audition!”

To set up an audition or for more information about the Cherokee National Youth Choir, contact Kathy Sierra at (918) 453-5638 or by email at youth-choir@cherokee.org.