Chief Peter Pitchlynn’s words come to life with music
By Shelia Kirven
March 1, 2022
Choctaw lyricist, professional songwriter, music producer and guitarist Scott D. Hutchison of Tulsa has released a new CD entitled “Peter Pitchlynn Poems to Songs: Hatchootucknee (Snapping Turtle)” featuring three poems written by Pitchlynn, which Hutchison has set to music. The poems by Pitchlynn, Chief of the Choctaw Nation 1864-1866, appear in the book Peter Pitchlynn: Chief of the Choctaws by W. David Baird.
The songs are “Jawbone (Walk I Say),” written in 1831 during the Trail of Tears, “Will You Go with Me” written in 1842 and “Song of the Choctaw Girl (Take Me Home Again)” written in 1842.
Hutchison said he read the book that included Pitchlynn’s poetry several years ago and was inspired to do a musical project with them. “I saw those three poems and immediately I could see that they could be put to a song form.” He described the project as something of a history lesson.
He wrote the music for the songs in a folk music style and invited others to help with vocals and instrumentation. The tracks feature Hutchison’s daughter, Norah Hutchison, on vocals along with professional vocalist Tanya Maksood. Gareth Laffely plays Native American flutes; Hutchison plays guitar, and Hank Charles plays bass guitar.
Choctaw artist Jane Semple-Umsted’s mural, “Long Journey Many Tears,” is on the CD’s cover (the original painting is housed at the Choctaw Museum at Tvshka Homma). Umsted is a member of the Pitchlynn family line. Hutchison said, “She was glad to see how I found the poems and brought them to life.” He noted how Umsted’s mural syncs up with the songs. “That winter from 1831-1832 was really a harsh, terrible winter when you read about it in history. It was unyielding hail and snow and ice, what they had to walk.” He said his inspiration came from the thoughts of “…the comeback of the endurance of the spirit of the Choctaw and other tribes, to be here and say we’re here, and we’re going to be.”
Hutchison has decades of history in the music business. He has written music on major labels with various artists and was a staff writer for Warner Brothers and BMG Music. He has also been the guitarist for bands, including the Steve Pryor band, which recorded with Capitol Records. He was a core member, writer and guitarist with the Big House band. He has also worked with Grammy award winner, record producer and songwriter Russ Titelman.
Hutchison has been featured on YouTube in an interview about The Church Studio of Tulsa (legendary recording studio), in the Tulsa World and Oklahoma Magazine.
Listen to Peter Pitchlynn Poems to Songs: Hatchootucknee (Snapping Turtle) on YouTube.
The Choctaw Cultural Center in Durant plays Hutchison’s CD in their facility and sells it in their gift shop.
The CD can also be ordered by leaving a message on Hutchison’s Facebook page, Peter Pitchlynn Poems to Songs, Hatchootucknee.