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Carina Dominguez
Indian Country Today

Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate mixes Chickasaw language and traditional sounds with modern symphonic music in his most ambitious project yet.

Tate, Chickasaw, is an Emmy award-winning classical composer and pianist. He’s been composing for nearly 30 years and his latest album, “Lowak Shoppala’”, was released earlier this year.

“It was just unbelievable, the talent that came together… It was a blast. I had so much fun and everybody involved really had a great time,” Tate said earlier this year to Indian Country Today.

He was born in Norman, Oklahoma and is dedicated to developing Indigenous classical composition.

The American Composers Forum suggested Tate partner with the Chickasaw Nation to compose the album.

“I mean, it was incredible how well it came together and I was just so proud of my community,” Tate said. 

The body of work merges modern classical music and theater with the Chickasaw children’s chorus, dancers and narrators. It blends traditional and modern cultures on stage.

Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate, Chickasaw, released his album, Lowak Shoppala', earlier this year on iTunes and Amazon. Lowak Shoppala' means fire and light in Chickasaw. (Photo courtesy of Jerod Tate)

Lowak shoppala’ means “fire and light” in Chickasaw and the album was heavily influenced by his Native and Irish background.

His middle name, Impichchaachaaha’, is his inherited traditional Chickasaw name which means “high corncrib,” a hut used for storing corn and other vegetables on stilts to keep safe from foraging animals.

Tate is a guest composer, conductor and pianist for San Francisco Symphony Currents program Thunder Song: American Indian Musical Cultures and was recently guest composer for Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Balcony Bar program.

Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate, Chickasaw, composes new music. (Photo courtesy of Jerod Tate)

His commissioned works have been performed by the National Symphony Orchestra and many others. His music was recently featured on the HBO series “Westworld.”

Tate was introduced to music, composition and theater at an early age and that set the foundation for this project.

“It was as difficult as I had anticipated and I was ready for it,” Tate said.

The project was over 10 years in the making because each element needed to be recorded individually and layered into the final mix.

Part of the album premiered in a live performance on the Chickasaw Nation in 2009.

After attending that performance Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby approved a full professional recording with a Grammy-award winning label.

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