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Native American musicians honored to perform at historic commemoration ceremony

(left to right) Gareth Laffely, The Blessed Blend, Ryan Little Eagle Molina
(left to right) Gareth Laffely, The Blessed Blend, Ryan Little Eagle Molina
(left to right) Gareth Laffely/Photo Credit: Denny Cook Holmes, The Blessed Blend/Photo Credit: Connie Jarzyna, Ryan Little Eagle Molina/Photo Credit: Ken Jacobs

Native American flute sensation and rising star Gareth Laffely, NAMMY Award winning The Blessed Blend, and NAMMY Award winning Ryan Little Eagle Molina are scheduled to perform during the Native American Commemoration Ceremony at the Tennessee State House on Friday, June 27th, 2014. The Tennessee General Assembly set June 27th, 2014, as the official date to commemorate sincere regret to all Native American Nations affected by the state's participation in the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and subsequent forced march known as the Trail of Tears.

The ceremony will be held in the chamber of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Tennessee State Capitol, 600 Charlotte Avenue, 2nd floor, Nashville, TN 37243, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm, and will feature heartfelt comments by House and Senate lawmakers along with tribal leaders and chiefs. A reception will follow in the Legislative Lounge.

"Nearly 200 years after the forced removal of Native Americans from their land, a new day is dawning in our great state." said State Representative Glen Casada. "Join us as we come together in the spirit of restoration, honor, and dignity as we acknowledge the sins of our past and step into the future united as One Nation in Tennessee." [from Native American Commemoration Ceremony press release]

"I feel truly honored to be a part of this historical event." said Gareth Laffely. "The voices of those who lost their lives on the Trail of Tears have been crying out for nearly 200 years, and for the first time, their calls have been recognized. The Trail of Tears and the Indian Removal Act of 1830 are perhaps the darkest chapters in American history. This event marks the beginning of a healing. This event cannot erase the past, but it gives hope for a better future."

Gareth Laffely (also known as Gareth), from Gallatin, Tennessee near Nashville and of Mi'kmaq/Cree descent, is a gifted 16-year-old Native American flutist, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter, and producer who has been capturing much fan excitement with his music and live performances across the United States and Canada. He is completely self taught on the Native American flute and combines rock, pop, and world music into a revolutionary style all his own. He released his debut album entitled, "The Journey", on July 17th, 2013, (whose title song was written to honor those who lost their lives on the Trail of Tears) and was recorded with two-time GRAMMY Award nominated hit songwriter and Dove Award winning producer Robert White Johnson (Celine Dion, the Beach Boys, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cheap Trick, .38 Special), and GRAMMY Award winning engineer, Gary Dales. (Listen to Gareth's single "The Journey" on SoundCloud here.)

Gareth's recent participation in a GRAMMY U Amplifier contest, sponsored by the Recording Academy and Hyundai Motors, where he finished in 3rd position for popular fan voting and several TV and on-air radio appearances have only helped to solidify his popularity. He is the youngest member of the Nashville Chapter of the Recording Academy. He takes an "anti-bully" message into schools across the country. [from Gareth Laffely biography]

Gareth Laffely on Facebook; Gareth Laffely on Twitter; Gareth Laffely on SoundCloud

"We feel greatly honored to be asked to share our song "The Trail Where They Cried" at this historic event in Nashville." said Joseph and Layala RiverWind [The Blessed Blend]. "We cannot undo the past but what we can do is remember, repent, reconcile, and repair the wounds of these tragic memories so that future generations will not shoulder a unforgiving burden of hatred, anger, prejudice and bitterness. When we wrote this song healing and peace, through The Creator, was our hearts intent as we do our small part to help mend the Sacred Hoop."

The Blessed Blend are Joseph and Laralyn RiverWind. Joseph, of Taino descent, and Laralyn, of Muscogee Creek/Cherokee/Irish/Scottish descent, are NAMMY Award winning musicians composing and performing original and ancient songs by blending Native American and Celtic music; which is deeply rooted in the history of the Appalachian Mountains. The Blessed Blend weaves a harmony of tribal fusion music from these two ancient and still thriving cultures sprinkled with some traditional storytelling and other surprises. [from The Blessed Blend biography]

The Blessed Blend on Facebook; The Blessed Blend on Twitter; The Blessed Blend on SoundCloud

"I feel honored to be asked by Senator Randy McNally to be a part of this event." said Ryan Little Eagle Molina. "It means a lot to be able to play for such a major precedence for the Native Community. Especially, getting to play alongside a fellow Taino, Joseph RiverWind of Blessed Blend. Although it's not a formal apology for what happened, it still sets a course that hopefully others will follow. To show that Native People are still here and are still rich in their culture. I'm glad that I can be a part of the change and I hope to be a part of more in the future."

Ryan Little Eagle Molina is a NAMMY Award winning Native American flutist, of mixed Lakota/Apache heritage, and from the Hill Country of Texas. Ryan's grandmother named him “Wambli Cikala” (Little Eagle) and passed on the knowledge of the old ways from stories her grandmother had told her. Little Eagle learned what he could about Native culture from listening to stories told by the few who remembered the old ways of "the people". Little Eagle has performed for diverse crowds all over the United States. He is also a Native American cultural educator, music writer, drum maker and traditional dancer. [from Ryan Little Eagle Molina biography]

Ryan Little Eagle Molina on Facebook; Ryan Little Eagle Molina on SoundCloud

Native American Commemoration Ceremony
Friday, June 27th, 2014
Tennessee State Capitol, House of Representatives Chamber
600 Charlotte Avenue, 2nd floor
Nashville, TN 37243
Time: 1:00pm - 3:00pm
Reception following in the Legislative Lounge

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