Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts & 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! They will present it at the Renaissance Arts Center Theatre in October 2014 with a staged reading at Allendale Amphitheater in July.

The City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts is proud to present the musical Nanyehi: Beloved Woman of the Cherokee, its Tennessee debut, in mid-October 2014 at the Renaissance Arts Center & Theatre in Kingsport in collaboration with the Kingsport Theatre Guild. A public stage reading will take place at the Allendale Mansion Amphitheater on July 10, 2014. Auditions will take place the next day on July 11, 2014.

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 they’re living in a virtual world. I want to inspire people to do better to make this world a better place.”

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.

Cherokee Nation citizen Jenna Stocks choreographed the dances. “The songs are really contemporary and they use contemporary instruments, so the dancing has been more contemporary and less traditional,” Jenna Stocks said. “It’s a very meaningful play. It’s meaningful to the Cherokee Nation because she was a strong leader, and so I think it’s very touching”.

Hobbs came up with the idea of telling Ward’s 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 Center’s 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.

For complete descriptions of all Engage Kingsport Performing Arts Series’ events and to purchase tickets visit the City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts’ website and Events Calendar: www.EngageKingsport.com (there is no extra charge for online ticket purchases) or call (423) 392-8414 or come by room 224 and visit our office.