Singer, songwriters up for big awards for ‘Te Ata’ theme song
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office, Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office
Release Date: August 18, 2016
“Toward the Rising Sun” to be available at online music stores in near future
ADA, Okla. – Two days.
It was all the time Chickasaw songstress Tabitha Fair could spare.
The famed New York City vocalist would record “Toward the Rising Sun” one day, film the song’s music video the next, then hop a flight out of Tulsa to rejoin country music mega-hit entertainers Rascal Flatts, who hired her to perform lead and harmony vocals on its 2015 ‘Riot’ tour.
“Toward the Rising Sun” is the theme song to “Te Ata,” the Chickasaw Nation-produced full-length movie based on the early career of Mary Thompson “Te Ata” Fisher, a world renowned actress, Native American storyteller and folklorist.
The song and the artist who sings it have been nominated by the Native American Music Awards (NAMMY). It is up for “Single of the Year.” Fair is nominated for “Artist of the Year.” Internet voting has begun and supporters of the song, Fair and the band “Injunuity” may vote once per day.
Injunuity is up for “Record of the Year,” which is unrelated to “Toward the Rising Sun.”
However, the Ada-based band primarily wrote “Toward the Rising Sun” and recorded the professional soundtrack for it last year.
In order to vote, visit www.NAMALIVE.com, click “vote now” and chose “Toward the Rising Sun,” Tabitha Fair and Injunuity.
The Chickasaw Nation is making the song available for purchase to the public using multiple venues for convenience. They include major online music retailers including iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play, Pandora and several others.
“OUR BEST EFFORT”
Jeff Carpenter, producer and co-writer of “Toward the Rising Sun” states unequivocally the song is “our best effort by far. Everyone understood its importance. It is an assignment you relish and the team we put together all brought their ‘A’ game,” he said.
Carpenter is an audio producer for the tribe’s multimedia department and guitarist for the national award-winning Native quartet “Injunuity.” He, along with Injunuity flutist Brad Clonch, bassist Philip Sullivan, percussionist Brian Harrison and Chickasaw Nation Creative Strategist Harley Lewis were tasked with writing the music and lyrics of “Toward the Rising Sun.”
Through research and intensive study of the movie, Carpenter noticed a reoccurring element universal to “Te Ata” and the Chickasaw Nation.
“In the movie, Te Ata mentions the ‘rising sun’ several times in conversation or when she is telling a story. It struck me both Te Ata and the tribe always moved ‘toward the rising sun,’” Carpenter said.
While the tribe’s origin in prehistory is unknown, historians and experts agree Chickasaws traveled great distances from west to east before finally settling in their ancestral homeland of Mississippi. Additionally, rural Oklahoma-born Te Ata ventured east to New York City when she was a young, aspiring Broadway actress.
Lending powerful credibility to Carpenter’s observations and research was Te Ata’s name – it means “bearer of the morning.”
ALL IN AGREEMENT
Carpenter presented his idea to the songwriting team.
His epiphany rang true with the others. As an added bonus, Carpenter already composed a fundamental chord structure for the song playing in his head.
Lyrically, “Toward the Rising Sun” took the group about eight hours to pen in two exhaustive four-hour songwriting sessions.
A rudimentary scratch track was recorded and sent to Fair. She would choose a key and begin rehearsing, all the while traveling the nation aboard a tour bus with Rascal Flatts.
Injunuity – Carpenter, Clonch, Sullivan and Harrison – entered Injunuity Studios to record the professional soundtrack and to add instrument overdubs.
Clonch’s finely-tuned music discipline created digital strings which “really added a professional and beautiful flow to the song,” Carpenter observed.
There was only one problem: at some point professional violinists, cellists and string performers would have to be hired to play on the final recording. In order for that to occur, the music would have to be written out.
That duty fell to Clonch.
“He sat down at a piano and played the string parts, scratching down notes. He later went back and tidied up the hand-scribed score,” Carpenter explained.
A few days later, sheet music was handed to 21 Oklahoma string performers to put the finishing touches on “Toward the Rising Sun.”
“Listening to and watching that orchestra play our composition … well, it choked us up. The emotional experience was overwhelming. I think it surprised us both. It is an intense feeling hearing an orchestra perform music you composed,” Carpenter said.
Fair’s lead vocals and harmonies were recorded in a day following a whirlwind trip to Ada from Dallas on a night Rascal Flatts performed in the Texas metroplex, Carpenter said.
“I remember thinking ‘two days to get all this done.’ I should have put all my concerns aside because there isn’t a more thorough professional than Tabitha Fair,” Carpenter said. Tucked away in Injunuity Studios, Fair laid down harmony parts first and then recorded the lead vocal. In fact, she recorded approximately eight versions of the lead.
“All of the recordings were magnificent,” Carpenter said with a laugh. “So, we enjoyed the luxury of choosing the best of about eight great takes.”
For 30-plus years, Fair has worked as a backup vocalist for some of the hottest soloists in America, including Amy Grant, Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood, Céline Dion, Elton John and many others.
The daughter of a Methodist minister, she is Chickasaw born and reared in Oklahoma. In the last few years, Fair has reconnected with her Native heritage. She and Injunuity have teamed up to provide theme songs for Annual Chickasaw Meeting and Festival.
When asked to perform the “Te Ata” theme, Fair jumped at the opportunity.
In a soulfully powerful performance of “Toward the Rising Sun,” it is easy to see why Fair is in demand. She also began taking steps to embark on a solo career, selling out music venues in New York City before she relocated to Nashville recently.