• Music
  • Grades 4-8
Wade Fernandez

Wade Fernandez

Keshena, WI

“If you try to define yourself as a musician, you end up comparing yourself to other people. I felt like I wasn't good enough unless I could play as good as others in any style of music. I finally grew out of that by accepting who I was… and I think that's the key. We don't need to sound like anybody else, we just have to find a way to deliver what we have.”

Musician Interview

Gathering Inspiration from Nature

Wade Fernandez lives on the Menominee Reservation in Northeastern Wisconsin and tours internationally performing his music. He finds inspiration for his compositions in nature and draws from musical genres from all over the world.


“We are all influenced by what's around us. For me, that was the forest.”

Questions to consider:
  • Wade shares some examples of the connections he sees between music and nature. How do you think music and nature are connected? What emotions come up for you as you listen to Wade’s nature-inspired music?
  • Wade talks about an experience when a music teacher said that “…after two and a half years with you, you still sound like Wade Fernandez.” Who do you think the teacher wanted him to sound like? Why? Have you ever been told to be more like someone else? What did you do or feel about that?
  • Wade shares that his cultural identity is hard to define and that he considers himself to be “part of life”—part of something broader than one culture or another. What does “cultural identity” mean to you? How would you describe your own identity?

Musician Performance

Wade Fernandez


(We Are Blessed)

Wade chose this song for the project because it is entirely in the Menominee language, which he and others want to preserve. With this song, he shares messages about appreciating what is beautiful around us and what we have. Wade’s song references natural elements like rain and planting seeds, and also includes Wade’s children’s names.

“Sawaenemiyah” was composed by Wade Fernandez and featured on his 2012 album, Breathe & Flow. This performance was recorded by PBS Wisconsin Education on February 10, 2020.


View the song lyrics in Menominee and English.


“To really, truly define myself—I'm part of life.
I have the same substance in me that the trees have. I have the same substance that the animals have. We are all influenced by what's around us, and for me, that was the forest. I think that inspired my music to have a little more space, and to have a little more peace in it as well.”
Wade Fernandez

Play Music

“Sawaenemiyah” (We Are Blessed)

Musicians participating in this project have granted permission to PBS Wisconsin Education for their selected songs to be shared. By using this PBS Wisconsin Education website or any of the resources provided to you through the website, you signify your agreement to our Terms of Use.

Guides & Resources

Wade Fernandez

Educator Engagement Guide

Wade Fernandez

Wondering how to spark additional learning using these media resources? Check out this guide developed by music educators, for music educators.

Inside this guide:

  • Background information about the musician
  • Knowledge, skill and affective outcomes for learners with strategies for achieving them
  • Academic standards aligned with these resources
Map of location
Keshena, WI

Project Credits

Mia Forslund
Ryan Hendricks

Ryan Hendricks
Ian Glodich
Mike Baron

Ryan Hendricks

Inga Foley
Beauxregard Neylon
Curtis Sorensen

Vicki Way Kipp

Scott Stetson
Amanda Roslansky
Ian Glodich
Amber Samdahl

Norman Yuson Cuaño
John Vieth
Tim Schneider

Wade Fernandez

Music Education Content
Kathy Bartling
Darin Menk
Laurie Fellenz

Engagement Guide
Kathy Bartling

Natasha Verhulst
Keshena Primary School
Menominee Indian School District
Keshena, WI

Project Partner
Wisconsin School Music Association

Executive Producer
Megan Monday

Director of Education
Alyssa Tsagong

Director of Television
Jon Miskowski

Special Thanks
Brian Heller and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music

Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation
Focus Fund for Education
Friends of PBS Wisconsin

Educator Advisory Group

Kevin Blakeslee
Lincoln Elementary
Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, WI

Peter Dennee
Carthage College
Kenosha, WI

Matt Eidson
Madison, WI

Heidi Henderson
Milwaukee German Immersion School
Milwaukee, WI

Amy Maack
Gifford K8 School
Racine, WI

Katherine Miller
Hadfield School
Waukesha, WI

Julie A. Palkowski, PhD
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Madison, WI

Schuyler Gardner Pietz
Madison Elementary School
Stevens Point, WI

Linda Ruesink
Watertown Unified School District
Watertown, WI

Sue Smits
Unified School District of De Pere
De Pere, WI

Kurt Stein
Kurt Stein’s School of Music
Fox Cities, WI

Randal Swiggum
Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, WI

Jesus M. Valencia
Rio H.S./M.S.
Rio, WI

Natasha Verhulst
Keshena Primary School
Menominee Indian School District
Keshena, WI

Lucy Wrenn
Palmyra-Eagle Area School District
Palmyra, WI