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Halifax resident brings Native American music to life

Lynchburg General Hospital emergency room nurse Robin Clark-Guthrie is living out her childhood dream.

Many years ago music was a big interest to Guthrie, however it had to take a back seat to her nursing career. But seven years ago a particular instrument began to call her name.

“The flute reached and grabbed me. Music was a childhood dream, but I consider it a blessing I’m able to be healing as a nurse and through my music. If you had asked me eight years ago if I’d be doing this, I wouldn’t believe you. I didn’t think it was possible, but I’m doing what I’m suppose to be doing,” said Guthrie.

Guthrie, of Iroquoian Native American heritage through her father’s family, was drawn to the flute and the traditional Native American style music.

Performing traditional and non-traditional Native American style flute and hand drum music, Guthrie and band members Stuart Cardwell and Warren Perkinson comprise the group Spirit Winds.

Cardwell and Perkinson are both of Native American heritage as well. Cardwell is of the Shoshone, and Perkinson is of the Appomattox River.

Guthrie first picked up the flute in 2005 and began performing with Cardwell from time to time, but the group didn’t actually form until about three years ago when Perkinson joined bringing his knowledge of drum and chants. Together they became the “Spirit Winds.”

The group performs at pow wows, cultural and educational events and has performed live on radio WRIR 97.3 out of Richmond.

According to Guthrie, being in the band takes some juggling around both her personal and work life, but the juggling is worth it.

“When we’re able to get the three of us together, it’s always good. When we come together, it’s like a spiritual get together,” said Guthrie.

The group has several performances lined up with the earliest set for June 9 in Virginia Beach at the Eastern American Drum, where they will be opening for three-time nammy winner Michael Bucher.

When Guthrie isn’t busy juggling between her childhood dream and her busy work schedule as an emergency room nurse, she enjoys being a “nature buff.”

“I love fishing and hunting and spending time with the birds, especially watching the eagles. I guess you could call me a nature buff,” said Guthrie.

When she spends time with nature that is when the music comes to her, it’s a true inspiration. She writes and records her own music. The group works together and generally comes up with a theme pulling the music together as a whole.

“I feel like I’ve known them for a lifetime, and we’ve met some wonderful folks who have become like family to us,” said Guthrie.

“I love our music…to me it’s a very spiritual thing. I listen to the wind and the birds, and it’s a lot of inspiration. We’ve each been given a gift, and we’re suppose to share that gift, and I hope that if someone needs healing or uplifting, I hope that they will reach out, and it will carry in the wind to them,” she added.

Meeting her band members and all the others she has come into contact with over the years has carried her on a “beautiful journey” in learning more about her Native American culture, Clark said, and spurred her to learn so many things about the music, traditions and language.

“I have a great respect for my ancestors and creator. I hope I can pass along all I’ve learned to my son, and he can pass it along to his children,” said Guthrie.

She resides in Halifax with her husband, Tony, and together they have one son, Lewis.