Cree Myles – excellere
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 the 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 Menomonee Falls when she was ten. She grew up in a family rich with creative and intellectual energy amidst music, literature, and intentional learning. Either her father’s deep interest in indigenous peoples or love of Cree Summers brought her the name Cree, a robust namesake. Her mother, 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 to gain 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 child to her toys, she was terrified of performing for others. When her part 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 the black 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 with honesty, love, and faith.
This is what makes Cree open, fun, disarmingly direct, and now fully committed to her singing career. Music is an ideal medium for us to rise above and gain perspective, a conduit for sharing experience. Ella Fitzgerald stated that music is a universal language that brings people 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 Lac Ave.
January 23, 9:45: PM Femfest – Company Brewing Riverwest
Spring 2016: EP release