Pamela Dove O'Daniel
by Alex Vagelatos
Singer and songwriter Pamela Dove O’Daniel has created a tribute to Native Americans in Tennessee who are embroiled in a legal battle with the state and private companies over the proposed relocation of sacred burial grounds for the sake of road expansion and redevelopment. After watching a courtroom hearing seeking to halt work on the project, O’Daniel was “moved to tears” by the treatment the Indian community received from state officials; certainly not the first time that reaction has been appropriate to the treatment of Native Americans — in Tennessee and elsewhere.
Co-written largely by O’Daniel, Chris James and Sandy Dickson, the songs draw on traditions and philosophies of Native Americans. The musicians were aided by White Eagle, a Southern Cheyenne Priest of the Sacred Arrows, who gave them advice and counsel and who appears in several spoken narrations.
The music ranges from acoustic to rock to what might be called an updating of traditional Native American music. O’Daniel has a lovely voice, which she uses to good effect. The CD is full of drums and chanting, as well as animal and nature sounds which have meaning to Native Americans — or to anyone who feels connected with the spiritual views of Native Americans. As Sacred Ground opens, there is the sound of an eagle calling over the wind, then a heartbeat, then distant thunder and a horse’s pounding hooves. White Eagle adds a brief incantation, before O’Daniel begins singing: “A dawn of love is here/ to heal what’s torn apart/ like distant echoes of thunder/ hear the beat of an Indian heart.”
O’Daniel has Cherokee, Choctaw and Irish heritage, and says she found inspiration for the music from that disparate background.
In looking for a studio willing to donate studio time, O’Daniel met Arvel Bird, owner of Brush Hill Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. (Bird last appeared in the December 14 issue of whatzup in a review of a Christmas CD he made with Fort Wayne native Fred Rothert). With his own Native American heritage, Bird donated the production and also played violin.
Sacred Ground is intended to raise money to help the preservation of ancestral burial grounds in Tennessee and other states. It is available at the
website of the Native American Spiritual Alliance, www.ndnfarm @aol.com.
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