The Land is sacred.
These words are at the core of your being.
The Land is our Mother.
It delivers our blood.
Take our land away, and we die.
That, is the Indian in us dies.
— Mary Brave Bird, Lakota (voice over by Karon Altman)
Well, they did it again. Tehachapi natives and residential band Blue Mountain Tribe has won yet another award, this time from the INDO French International Film Festival for their original song “Pray For Our Planet.”
Tehachapi has long gotten behind the all Native American band for music we know and love. But "Pray For Our Planet" is a message that has reverberated throughout the world, and thus, is gathering global recognition.
After the introduction by Mary Brave Bird and read by Karon Altman, Robin Hairston (lead vocalist, harmonica) begins the song by singing, "Pray for our planet, pray for our planet. Something's going wrong."
As fate would have it, Hollywood producer Michael Altman heard Blue Mountain Tribe's latest song, written during the early days of COVID, and thought, "We have something here."
After discussing it over with his brother, filmmaker Robert Reed Altman, the two brothers decided to meet the band and listen to the song in drummer Pat Mata's (percussion) studio.
"We took three cameras, then we filmed it, and they played the song twice," said Robert, also known as Bobby.
Bobby said he loved the song, and his brother Michael is very passionate about the spiritual meaning behind it.
"I was getting nudged to do this in a spiritual way," he said.
After finishing the sound track, Bobby said he filmed the music video by the cement plant, Brite Lake, Mata's rehearsal studio and in the Alpine Mountains.
Bobby said he wanted a shot of the earth because the video was about praying for the planet.
Said Bobby, "We also wanted to get pictures in the video of Standing Rock."
After putting the video pieces together, Bobby said he put the video on the filmfreeway.com, a site for music videos and contest opportunities.
Almost immediately, the band won first place in the INDO French International Film Festival. Five other film festivals, such as the Christian International Film Festival, have nominated "Pray For Our Planet" with the winners to still be announced.
In other words, the band is still finding out in real time what awards await them.
The band has two recent changes. First, Mata debuted his singing voice in "Pray For Our Planet," revealing a very pleasant addition to the ensemble. Also, Jeffery Cooper, also known as Cooper Hawk, replaced James Bixler on bass guitar.
Cooper Hawk took a several year hiatus from the band to undergo surgery, put has "returned home."
The lyrics to "Pray For Our Planet" were written by Hairston, who said it took about a week to write.
"When I wrote this song, everyone was saying that it was very important to address the things that were going on in the world and the plague," Hairston said last week.
Rounding out the band and shredding the lead guitar is Hairston's son, Caleb Hairston. Caleb and Mata wrote the music to the song.
Robin said the band has garnered enough songs to think about producing another blues rock album, but making an album can be expensive. Therefore, the band is thinking about fundraisers to help them achieve their aspiration of another hit record.
"Everything that has been happening with the disease and with all these riots. It meant so much to me. It is a very emotional thing, what is happening to our planet right now. Mother Earth is dying," Robin said, adding that his medicine man, Broken Turtle, a Zuni from Arizona, told him that he believes the earth is having a heart attack.
Cooper Hawk said he believes the solution is for the people to start believing in the Creator again, and to go back to the old ways.
Said Cooper Hawk, "A lot of our people, the elders, are passing away, and the young people are not learning the old ways. So much of our history and our culture is being lost."
Mata said that when he first heard the lyrics to the song, he believed the words were pretty powerful.
"I was trying to feel what they were coming from, so I generated the lyrics that skin, color, race and religion will not divide us," Mata said.
With Caleb working on the guitar jives for the song, he said he always feels the Spirit when he is composing.
"The title is speaking for itself," Caleb said. "The planet is suffering, and all this violence is everyone, and the COVID. Mother Nature is getting tired of it. It's getting crazy, and it is getting sad."
"Pray For Our Planet" can be viewed on the Blue Mountain Tribe Facebook page and on YouTube for free. You can like the song and Facebook page to show your support of some of the best music Tehachapi has to offer.