story by Elizabeth Vogt / photos by John Ruebartsch

Even in an El Niño embrace, winter in Wisconsin gets rather cold and dark—yet not for those who bear the bright and beautiful within, cultivating it, radiating joy  and humor. Such is Cree Myles webthe presence of singer Cree Myles—and so also the texture of her voice, which has been brightening Milwaukee venues from the Jazz Gallery and Company Brewing in Riverwest to Bay View, and even homeless shelters. She has only just begun.

Born in Milwaukee, Cree’s parents moved their family to MenomoneeFalls when she was ten. She grew upin a family rich with creative andintellectual energy amidst music, literature, and intentional learning. Either her father’s deep interest inindigenous peoples or love of CreeSummers brought her the nameCree, a robust namesake. Hermother, an educator, instilled in her the drumbeat of living excellently.

What is excellence? The Latin source of the word, excellere, infers eminence and elevation. Climbing out of the ordinary togain an expanded perspective. Cree pursues her interests and music in this very way, forging through everyday landscapes of compromise and challenge. Honest and dedicated on all fronts, she’s a mother, a worker, and a singer – songwriter.

Voices and courage take time to develop. Happily singing as a childto her toys, she was terrified ofperforming for others. When herpart in the ‘Accompany of Kids’program was praised, eleven year- old Cree was changed. She began formally pursuing music with a decade of voice lessons and a few years of piano and violin studies.

Loving children and wanting to “help save the world!” Cree received a dual Bachelor’s degree at Alverno in Community Development and Global Studies.

Women at Alverno were achieving great things while also tending to multiple dependents and jobs, demonstrating the chorus of the college: Anything is possible; go out and be your best selves. Employment at Alverno further fortified Cree, preparing for her launch.

Moving to Riverwest with her son Ethan this spring, Cree purposely chose this community of creatives, musicians, and artists. She is finding peers and mentors, singers, musicians, and collaborators. She’s working hard here to release her first EP in spring.

More than a career, she’s inquiring into what makes us who we are. Cree finds a deep ownership in theblack community as part of this. Following threads of generations through the teachers and ministers back to slaves, she feels anguish. “The only thing worse than death,” she says, “is hopelessness.” How to weave those lines forward now, today? For Cree Myles, it’s withhonesty, love, and faith.

This is what makes Cree open, fun, disarmingly direct, and now fullycommitted to her singing career. Music is an ideal medium for usto rise above and gain perspective, a conduit for sharing experience. Ella Fitzgerald stated that musicis a universal language that bringspeople closer together. Cree Myles will be doing just that with her music, in excellere!

Catch up with Cree Myles: January 17, 7 PM: R+B Live Mr. J’s Lounge – 4610 W. Fond Du LacAve. January 23, 9:45: PM Femfest – Company Brewing Riverwest Spring 2016: EP release