The Welch Family Singers perform gospel songs in English and in Cherokee. They accompany their traditional four-part harmonies with guitar and bass. “This is our ministry,” Alfred Welch says, “our work for the Lord.” Their renditions of hymns in the Cherokee language are part of a two-hundred-year old tradition of Christian music among the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Alfred Welch grew up in the Big Cove community on the Qualla Boundary and attended school in Big Cove and Cherokee. He joined the army at age sixteen and served in Vietnam. In 1967, he moved to the Snowbird community, and has lived there ever since. Today he works on road construction and teaches Cherokee language at the Zion Hill Baptist Church. His wife, Maybelle, grew up in the Snowbird Community, attending the Snowbird Indian School and public school in Robbinsville. Their son Hunter plays bass and guitar and sings with them.
The Welch Family Singers have been performing together for about ten years. They consider gospel songs in the Cherokee language to be their specialty. Alfred and Maybelle Welch grew up speaking the Cherokee language and began singing in church. The Welch Family Singers have sung in Oklahoma, Georgia, Virginia, and for many churches and benefits locally. The group also performs annually for the Trail of Tears Gospel Singing in Little Snowbird.
The quartet is willing to travel “wherever the Lord takes us.” Fees will be negotiated on an individual basis. A sound system will be needed for large audiences.