Staff Reports
Published 10:57 a.m. CT Oct. 31, 2019


Vol State student Gareth Laffely has gotten recognized worldwide for his Native American flute playing.

Gallatin Native American composer and musician Gareth Laffely’s songs featured in a new documentary can be heard at a special screening at the Tennessee State Museum.

The museum will host a Nov. 7 free screening of “Spirit Song,” which features songs from the collaborative album “Voices of the Guardians” by Laffeley, who is also a Middle Tennessee State University student, and Emmy-winning producer, composer and pianist Lance Bendiksen.

The screening will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Tennessee State Museum, at 1000 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. at Jefferson Street on Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park.

Native American advocate Gareth Laffely, pictured here at Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, is an MTSU Honors College student, Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award recipient, and an award-winning multi-instrumentalist and composer. His music will be featured in the Nov. 7 screening of the documentary “Spirit Song” at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville. (Photo: Andy Heidt, Middle Tennessee State University)

The project, which also includes narration by Wes Studi (“Dances with Wolves,” “Last of the Mohicans,” and “Avatar”), was filmed on the famed Skywalker Ranch in California, established 40 years ago by George Lucas, creator of the “Star Wars” movie franchise, according to a news release from MTSU.

The film, which documents the recording of “Voices of the Guardians” and showcases the sacred tribal areas and nearby indigenous cultures that inspired the project, is an official selection of the 2019 American Documentary Film Festival and the George Lindsey Una Film Festival. 

See the trailer at

The screening will be followed by a discussion with the 21-year-old Laffely and a traditional Native American flute musical performance. Laffely, an honors college student who at age 17 became the youngest artist to reach No. 2 on the Billboard New Age chart, is of Native American ancestry, with a bloodline tracing back to the Mi’kmaq and Cree tribes.

Laffely’s passionate performances of original compositions that promote social justice and historical awareness are helping to propel him as an impact activist for the Native American community. He uses his music as a tool for advocacy and channels his own unique experiences to do good for others. 

Recently named a recipient of the Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Laffely is one of only a handful of students, faculty or staff members in the Tennessee higher education system selected for the honor that recognizes significant public service. The award is named for Harold Love Sr., who served on the first Metro-Nashville Council in the early 1960s and later in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

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