Parker World Nation

“Songs of the Colorado River”

World Nation’s second recording, Songs of the Colorado River, was recorded in 1995 with engineers Barry Paul and Bobby Petersen at BP Recording in Hollywood, California.  While teaching ESOL in Parker (1992-1996), Cynthia Haring met Betty Cornelius, then director of the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) Museum in Parker, Arizona.  They discussed producing a Parker recording after Cornelius heard the first World Nation recording.  At about the same time Haring, accompanied by her lovebird Sweet Pea – who often joined her on school visits, perched on her shoulder – was performing songs for the children at CRIT Headstart.  While there she met a teacher, Cynthia McDonald, who was later asked to join the project as choir assistant for the CRIT Headstart singers.

The Songs of the Colorado River collection includes seven original songs, as well as songs in Spanish, English, and the four languages of the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) reservation – Mohave, Navajo, Chemehuevi, and Hopi. Haring wrote several songs, such as “Parker, Arizona,” “Bird of My Heart (for Sweet Pea),” and “La Paz Means Peace,” specifically for the children and community of Parker.  One song, “Because You’re in My Heart,” was written to feature the talents of high school violinist, Monica Mejia. Another song, “Cowboy’s Prayer,” was recorded as a memorial tribute to a neighbor and Hopi cowboy, who died prior to the recording’s completion.  Haring wrote the original music for a cowboy poem/prayer, which was listed as author unknown in the neighbor’s funeral program. Years later she learned that the poem was actually a variation of a work created by the great cowboy poet Badger Clark, a native of Custer, South Dakota.

A number of L.A. and Arizona musicians came on board for this recording.  Native American flautist Robert Tree Cody played handmade flutes on several songs. Candy Lerman, who doubled on violin parts with Monica, also provided violin solos and sang back-up harmonies with Haring.  Cody Bryant provided robust and creative banjo on several songs.  Lee Thornberg, a member of Tower of Power at the time, played and arranged all of the trumpet section parts on “De Colores,” “La Bamba,” and “Cielito Lindo.” The talented and versatile rhythm section featured Chad Watson on bass, Michael Turner on congas, temple blocks, and wind chimes, and Ardie Rowe on drums and vocals. Rowe knew Haring from her Destiny Quibble music days in Chicago. He also provided the group with invaluable logistical support while they were in Hollywood.  John York, a singer for the 60s band, The Byrds, joined the group as one of the back-up singers on “Cowbody’s Prayer.” Ron Feuer played keyboards and offered production assistance when Haring was coaching the children during recording sessions.