KINGSPORT – The City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts in collaboration with the Kingsport Theatre Guild will produce Nanyehi: Beloved Woman of the Cherokee, a musical about a Cherokee woman named Nanyehi, one of the most important Women in American History! There will be a free staged reading that is open to the public at the beautiful new Allandale Mansion Amphitheater on July 10, 2014 at 7:30 PM.‚ The public is invited and may come early and enjoy a picnic on the lawn.‚ The Tennessee premier of the full production will take place at the Renaissance Arts Center Theatre in October 2014.‚ Auditions for 37 Actors/Singers will take place on July 11, 2014. The auditions will be held at the Renaissance Arts Center & Theatre at 1200 East Center Street, Kingsport. For more information call (423) 392-8414
Auditions will be held on July 11 from 10AM ‚¬ 12PM & 6PM ‚¬ 8PM for the following roles:
19 Adult Men ‚¬ 4 lead Voices & 15 Chorus
13 Adult Women ‚¬ 4 Lead Voices & 9 Chorus
3 girls ‚¬ 1 Lead Voice
1 Male Teen
We encourage all people interested in performing with Grammy Award Nominated Becky Hobbs in the Tennessee premier of Nanyehi: Beloved Woman of the Cherokee to come out and audition.‚ This is a very unique opportunity for the Tri-Cities.‚ For more information on the staged reading or auditions please call (423) 392-8414.
Nanyehi is a two-act musical with 17 songs brought to you by Grammy Award nominated songwriter, Becky Hobbs and co-playwright, Nick Sweet, based on the life of Becky’s 5th-great grandmother, Nancy Ward, who was first honored as a Cherokee warrior, then as a peace maker in the 1700’s. She was first named Nanyehi, and later known as Nancy Ward. Nanyehi means, “she who walks among the spirit people.” On the day she was born, a white wolf appeared on the horizon. This was very significant to the Cherokee people, as “white” was the color that symbolized “peace,” and Nanyehi was born into the Wolf Clan, one of the most prominent of the seven Cherokee clans. She was born in approximately 1738, in Chota, the capital of the Cherokee Nation, in an area that is now eastern Tennessee. Enormous changes took place during her lifetime, she died in 1822.
Hobbs said she hoped to inspire and make a difference with people after they watched the production. There are a lot of people who have given up hope today and especially young people, she said. We look around and theyre living in a virtual world. I want to inspire people to do better to make this world a better place.
In 1776, after the illegal sale of lands in Tennessee, Wards cousin, Dragging Canoe, organized a series of attacks against white settlers. However, Ward sent runners to warn the whites of the approaching attacks. Dragging Canoe was wounded and three of the attacks were unsuccessful.
That Nanyehi could be such a strong woman back then when woman werent considered important, just shows that in the Indian culture they were said Hobbs
Highlights from the musical include the Battle of Taliwa, a Cherokee marriage ceremony and Ward saving the life of a white settler and a stickball game.
The two-act production also includes several dance numbers and songs such as Song of the Nunnehi or spirit people, Pass the Whiskey, This Land is Not Our Land and There Will Be Blood.
The songs are really contemporary and they use contemporary instruments, so the dancing has been more contemporary and less traditional, Jenna Stocks, choreographer for the Oklahoma production, said. Its a very meaningful play. Its meaningful to the Cherokee Nation because she was a strong leader, and so I think its very touching.
Hobbs came up with the idea of telling Wards story via a musical after writing some of the songs now in the production in the 1990s. It was after meeting Nick Sweet, who directed the Cherokee Heritage Centers Trail of Tears drama that the musical Nanyehi, Beloved Woman of the Cherokee was set into motion. Today, the production contains 17 songs.
Hobbs is best known for writing Angels Among Us, recorded by Alabama, as well as writing and recording her hits, Jones on the Jukebox and Honky Tonk Saturday Night. Her co-writer, Sweet, is a freelance stage director who has directed more than 100 productions, including the historical outdoor drama Trail of Tears in 2002. For Nanyehi, Sweet directs the musical production and Hobbs serves as musical director.
“Becky Hobbs’s and Nick Sweet’s interpretive story of Nanyehi is a world-class musical production. As one of her descendants, the story of Nancy Ward is both inspirational and deeply personal to me. The stirring
compositions, riveting dialogue and modern choreography make this a must-see piece of musical theater. Cherokee Nation history enthusiasts and theater fans will be mesmerized with Becky’s wonderful creation.”
—Bill John Baker, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief