Different song versions of America the Beautiful, sung in Tsalagi (Cherokee), has spiked the U.S. music charts and is now one of the most downloaded songs on iTunes.
The songs, performed by different artists and musicians, are fast becoming the unexpected benefactors surrounding Coca-Cola’s now controversial Superbowl commercial, which featured the patriotic song, but sung in different world languages.
One version of the song by the Cherokee Foundation Youth Chorale (CFYC) has made it to the iTunes top 10 list for the U.S., besting the likes of Katy Perry and Christina Aguilera.
Patricia Skyeagle, CFYC’s managing director said that they started to notice an upswing in downloads immediately after the Coca-Cola advertisement was aired during the Superbowl.
“It was amazing. We went from one or two downloads per day, then suddenly upwards of 20,000 in a few hours,” Skyeagle said.
Skyeagle said that the song was arranged into a four-part choral piece by one of the members of the singing group, whose father was killed by an Improvised explosive device (IED) during a tour of duty in Afghanistan, just a few years ago.
“It was her tribute to her father and to the country her father died for,” Skyeagle added.
Bruce Hattenschweiler, professor at the Native American Institute at Michigan State University said that it is unfortunate that it took something controversial to spawn interest in Native American culture.
“I hope this continues, as preservation of their culture is very important if we want to look back in a hundred years and ask ourselves who we are,” Hattenschweiler said.
After Coca-Cola’s advertisment was aired, many were angered and posted on several social media sites such as Twitter, saying that the song should only be sung in English.
On Twitter, one user wrote: “This is an outrage. America the Beautiful in foreign languages,” while another user called for a boycott of the company, posting: “Never buying Coke again … America the Beautiful in a language other than English is just wrong.”
Commenting on the Coca-Cola ad controversy, Skyeagle has this to say to everyone: “Saquu gawonisdi vtla yeliquu.” (Translation: One Language is not enough).