Cherokee National Youth Choir,
Comfort & Joy
(Cherokee Nation, 2006)

Comfort & Joy is the fifth studio collection by the Cherokee National Youth Choir. This one was awarded Best Gospel or Inspirational Recording at the 9th annual Native American Music Awards and was nominated for Best Spiritual Recording at the 2007 Indian Summer Music Awards.

You will find several other reviews of this choir here at Rambles.NET and can follow its growth and progress over the years. Since its beginning in 2000, the Cherokee National Youth Choir has steadily gained momentum among the American public. They have performed at the White House and Smithsonian Institution, but received their greatest honor to date when they were invited to participate in the 2007 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This collection combines the Cherokee Adult Choir and the Kindergarten Immersion Class for a frolicking good time through the holidays with the Cherokee Nation. There is something to appeal to almost every listener.

The little singers bring life to "Happy Birthday Jesus" and the introduction to "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear." You cannot listen to these children without smiling. They will tug at your heart strings and lift your spirit. The latter of these songs demonstrates the choir's proficiency with tone control extremely well. In polar contrast, the older choir brings a rich fullness to "Silent Night." The vibrato in this piece is magnificent! The harmony is exquisite. The solo by Corey Still in "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" has to be one of the most beautiful ever performed. What a voice!

"Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" dramatically demonstrate the difference in languages and the difficulty in translating songs from English. The first is one of my favorite Christmas songs, but I have never heard a version as beautiful as this. "Rudolph" had the strongest vocals of the entire collection. It seemed as if the choir simply relaxed and had fun performing the song. That fun flowed throughout the piece (and is highly contagious).

"Joy to the World" has a harmony that will knock your socks off. It is fantastic in every aspect and has to be the ideal execution of this song. "Jingle Bells" has the rousing piano to get you moving to the beat.

"Away in a Manger" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" both have very strong vocals with fullness and depth. They are layered beautifully. "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" goes the other way and offers a light, delicate rendition.

The only thing I noticed that should be improved is the "fa-la-la" in "Deck the Halls." It is a bit on the airy side and needs more gusto and bounce. It is emphasized by the plucky piano, which I love. The vocals should follow the piano in style.

If you can produce a dozen songs and the only knock from a reviewer is that you got a bit airy during one part, you have done an exceptional job with your music. This choir is a credit to its directors, Mary Kay Henderson and Kathy Sierra, and a positive reflection on the entire Cherokee Nation.

Comfort & Joy delivers exactly what the title indicates and is one Christmas CD that you should not be without. It will lift your spirits and bring a smile to your face.

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review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

14 June 2008

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