Attendees at the National Reservation Economic Summit, March 11-14 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, will be in for some soulful entertainment when Tabitha Fair takes the stage.
Fair, a Chickasaw tribal member from Oklahoma who lives in New York these days, brings an eclectic background to the Summit – as well as warm-hearted support for the mission and goals of the host organization, the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. She’s so taken with the opportunity, in fact, that in addition to the popular song she mastered for opening night, she’s bringing a song written expressly for her performance at the Women’s Luncheon on Thursday the 14th.
“Hopefully it will take people by surprise,” Fair said. “To me, this is more intimate and it’s saying more. It’s more about a journey that we all take.”
Called “Promises,” the new tune reflects on how “we’re the only ones who can really step outside of ourselves and make a difference in our own lives and other people’s lives,” Fair said. “We’re the only ones who can change things, and change starts with our own person.”
Fair co-wrote the song with friends, and the lyrics are meant to encourage people towards action, both in their personal and professional lives: “Promises, promises, rivers of gold,” goes the refrain, “promises, promises, barren and cold/promises, promises, waiting for more/promises, promises, what are you waiting for?”
“This song is sharing a piece of myself and what I had to go through in my life to make me what I am now,” Fair continues, “We’re all responsible for ourselves. We’re all a collective, whole people, but we’re all responsible for ourselves. It’s about not letting the things that come our way affect us, or keep us from prospering.”
Fair’s family is deeply involved in her tribe – her uncle, Bill Anoatubby, is the governor of the Chickasaw Nation – but she actually grew up in the Pentecostal church, where her father was a preacher and her mother was a songstress for the church. Fair grew up singing in the church, and was heavily influenced by her gospel roots.
By the time she was a teenager, Fair made her own gospel album, moved to Nashville, and was singing with Amy Grant, Wynonna Judd, Faith Hill, Lee Ann Womack, and Trisha Yearwood, among others. She also co-founded Avalon, the highest-selling contemporary Christian group of all time.
In recent years she has been living in New York, where she’s crafted a full-time career around her music. Fair co-wrote a song with Carol King that was featured in the movie “Sum of All Fears” featuring Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman. She has made concert duets with Sting, Travis Tritt, Michael McDonald, and with Sam Moore, with whom she toured the world. She performed at the Clinton-Obama inauguration in 2008 alongside Mary J. Blige, Beyonce and James Taylor. She’s also contributed background vocals to numerous albums, launched her own solo work, and contracted to perform on TV, radio and film commercials.
“As a person who’s made a living in the music industry for a lot of years, you do a lot of different things in the business,” Fair explained. “You can’t just do one thing any more. You have to be an artist, you have to be a singer, and you have to be a songwriter.”
Gary Davis, President and CEO of the NCAIED, said it’s an honor to bring in a musician and singer/songwriter as accomplished as Tabitha Fair.
“I know she is going to infuse so much passion and energy into the performances she delivers,” he said. “I know audiences will be awestruck.”
Davis wants to keep some surprises for the RES 2013 entertainment lineup, but he has disclosed some of the other names on the lineup. Besides Fair, attendees will be treated to Yaqui guitarist Gabriel Ayala, world champion drummers and singers Northern Bear, world champion fancy dancer, Larry Yazzie, Meskwaki, and the Native Pride Dancers, and Midnite Express, which has brought its music to nearly every corner of Indian Country and consistently remained at the top of competition powwow singing.
Fair has never attended a RES event before but her brother, contractor Randy Anoatubby, has been a regular. He has long thought she should go as a way to promote her music.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “I love that I’m Native American. I love that I’m Chickasaw Indian. In the business that I’m in, I have to live in a place like New York, or Los Angeles, or Nashville. I feel like I’m the one Chickasaw Indian in New York City. I’m very excited about getting to perform for my Native American people. I love my culture; it’s such a rich heritage.”