Chickasaw Anthem Ensemble at Arrowhead
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When the crowd’s cheers touched Phillip Berryhill’s ears at Arrowhead Stadium, he knew the Chickasaw National Anthem Ensemble had knocked it out of the park.
The ensemble has performed the “Star Spangled Banner” four years in a row for the National Football League Kansas City Chiefs to celebrate Native American Heritage Month.
After the Nov. 26 performance, Mr. Berryhill, Chickasaw Nation choir director in Ada, Tishomingo and Ardmore, is certain an invitation to return in 2018 is mere formality.
“Honestly, it was great,” he said. “The girls were tremendous. It is the best we’ve ever performed,”
The ensemble includes 19 female vocalists. The group brought the house down and received “high fives” from Chiefs’ nose guard Benny Logan.
Particularly pleasing to Mr. Berryhill was the crowd’s response when the ensemble burst into three-part harmony on the last verse of the classic Francis Scott Key song.
“When the girls broke into three-part harmony, we take a pause before we continue,” Mr. Berryhill said. “All of a sudden, I could hear the crowd behind me react. When I heard that I knew we were sounding great and that pumped me up even more. When we left the field, walking past the players and into the tunnel, I thought ‘Wow. This is really an amazing experience,’ and it started to dawn on me this was really, really good.
“It was probably the most advanced group of singers we’ve ever taken,”
Of 19 choir members, only two had not performed at Arrowhead Stadium on previous occasions.
“One of the great things that happened was several parents made the trip and served as chaperones,” Mr. Berryhill said. “They witnessed the importance of our participation and how much it meant to the students. Many of the girls are performing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ at their own school events.”
The Chickasaw National Anthem Ensemble making the trip was made up of singers ages 13 through 19 who represented five Native American tribes.
They are, Eryn Anoattuby, 16, Chickasaw; Daryn Berryhill, 18, Muscogee Creek; Lydia Bomboy, 17, Chickasaw; Elizabeth Crawford, 13, daughter of a Chickasaw Nation employee; Abbie Gandy, 17, Cherokee; Mackenzie Geisler, 16, Potawatomi; Taylor Harrison, 14, Chickasaw; Jaylee Jennings, 14, Chickasaw; and Markita McCarty, 16, Chickasaw.
Rounding out the group were Kyla Mitchell, 15, Chickasaw; Cora Moldenhauer, 17, Navajo/Apache; Madisen Moore, 18, Chickasaw; Makenna Moore, 16, Chickasaw; Gabrielle Padilla, 17, Chickasaw; Micah Postoak, 14 Chickasaw; Ashton Rawlins, 19, Chickasaw; Faithlyn Seawright, 19, Chickasaw; Haley Shaw, 17 Chickasaw and Izy Wilkerson, 15, Chickasaw.