Thursday, 03 December 2015 17:55

ONYAT'A:KA Oneida Pride!


Oneida Pride


Oneida Pride – Students Celebrate Their Creativity & Culture

I just had an incredible week full of Oneida Pride as I worked with students at Standing Stone School at Oneida Nation of the Thames. Four classes were interested in songwriting, one wanted to do filmmaking and another did slam poetry. On Friday afternoon I commandeered the school PA system and started playing this song we’d written together over the intercom. The students all poured out of their classrooms and we had this impromptu rock show moment in the hallway!

When I walked into the Grade 2 classroom I asked what type of song they’d like to write. “A Christmas song!” one little girl exclaimed. I asked what we should call it. “Christmas Town” another chimed in. By the time I could grab a marker and make my way to the white board the kids were off and running, calling out lyrics as I scrambled to write them down.

I grabbed my guitar and started to find a melody that would work with the lyrics, as well as be in a good key for them to be able to sing. In four days we wrote the music, lyrics and melody together and recorded it. And honestly…it’s an amazing song!


At the beginning of the week, I had an opportunity to get together with L:ao Antone, the Oneida language teacher, who graciously helped me work out some Oneida words that could be incorporated into the song I was writing with the kids. Creative and cultural literacy projects are an incredible opportunity to work together collaboratively to create something bigger than anyone person who is involved. This video is where we started on Monday…by Friday we were chanting at the top of our lungs in the hallway like we were at a rock concert!


If you’re interested in booking creative or cultural literacy projects for your school contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 250-896-2572

Published in Tour Stories
Monday, 15 December 2014 19:29

Record Your Version of This Song!

Dark is the Night, came out of recent conversations with young songwriters, slam poets and filmmakers in remote communities across the country. Their personal stories of pain, hope and struggle mixed with the stories coming out of Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island.

The theme of my workshops is always about finding your voice so you can share your story with others, and recognizing how having different talents and abilities provides opportunities for us to work creatively with others. So we talk about how it’s in dark times of terror and tragedy that many of us discover our ability, maybe even our responsibility, to stand up for our friends, families and communities. To light the fires for those who have lost their way, and help them make it back home. To let them know that they don’t struggle alone and they haven’t been forgotten.

Here's my invitation to you. If your school, community or church has a choir, I’d like to invite you to arrange and perform your own version of this song. If you’re a solo artist, a singer/songwriter or in a band or maybe just have a great group of friends who’d like to come up with your own version…please do! And then send it to me, so I can post it and share it with the students and communities I work with, to further inspire and encourage them.

Each of us has been given a voice…you can call it a gift, a talent or an ability. When we take what we’ve been given and offer it to those around us, we can change the world.

It’s a very simple song to play and to sing. On guitar use regular tuning.

(ooh part 2x) Am / C / G / Am

Am             C       G                        Am

Dark is the night when the stars are hidden

Am             C         G                       Am

Charting a course with no point of direction

F                   C               G                       Am

I’ll light the fires on the shore to guide you home

F                   C                         G

I’ll sing our songs through the night…hear my voice

(ooh part 2x) Am / C / G / Am


Dark is the life, when the stars are hidden

Charting a course, with no point of connection

I’ll light the fires on the shore to guide you home

I’ll sing our songs through the night…hear my voice

For Instrumental Break – strum Am chord and then all open strings

Published in Tour Stories

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