Founder of Parker World Nation singing group, Cynthia Haring, dies

Cynthia Haring, 69, a teacher, singer, songwriter, and performer who brought a group of Parker schoolchildren together as a singing group in the 1990s, has died.

Cynthia was a native of Davenport, Iowa and a graduate of Bettendorf High School, the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Arizona in Tucson.

As a young poet and artist, Cynthia performed under the name Destiny Quibble, becoming well known for her efforts to legalize street performance in Chicago in the 1980s. Her multicultural performance ensemble, World Nation, was the marriage of her music career and her experience as an ESL teacher. This inspired her to form further World Nation groups, first in the town of Muscatine, Iowa, and then in Parker.

“I was pretty much born with a passion and a love of people from different cultures,” Cynthia told this reporter for a 2018 reunion film commissioned by the Colorado River Indian Tribes. “Being on the CRIT reservation gave me an amazing opportunity to learn about the Hopi, Mohave, Chemehuevi and Navajo cultures.”

Cynthia decided to make a recording of the kids in the Parker area as a way to celebrate the cultural diversity in the area. She brought instruments she’d collected from around the world, and stuffed animals for younger children, and started rehearsals.

“We recorded in Hollywood, California,” Cynthia said. “So hey, we’re going to Hollywood, we’re recording artists.”

The resulting album, called Songs of the Colorado River, was recorded at a studio in Los Angeles in 1995. It includes traditional music and songs about Parker and La Paz County written by Cynthia, celebrating local place names and other regional specifics, songs in each Native language as well as Spanish and English.

The children involved in the group remembered it fondly in 2018, when Cynthia returned to Parker for a reunion at the CRIT Fair.

“It was the best experience I had in my whole life I think,” one said.

Members of the original group took to the stage along with their own children, and sang songs from the album 23 years after it was recorded.

After her period living in Parker, Cynthia went on to form a World Nation group in Tampa Bay, Florida, and later produced albums with names like Cruisin’ in my Wagon (2013), Walking in a Memory (2017) and School of Fish (2019).

A longtime voting member of the Grammy community, Cynthia donated funds to numerous causes, most significantly the Caryl Haring Memorial Scholarship Fund, which she founded in 2012 after her mother passed away. In the spring of 2022, she established the Haring Valdeos Foundation, a not-for-profit charitable organization supportive of the arts, education, environment, and social justice.

Cynthia died on March 6th after a battle with leukemia. She is lovingly remembered by her spouse Katia Valdeos, family, and hundreds of young members of her World Nation ensembles. A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, April 8th, at 11:00 am in Spring Hill, Florida. In honor of Cynthia’s love to help others through charity, in lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Haring Valdeos Foundation or a check made out to the foundation (P.O. Box 6652, Spring Hill, Florida 34611).

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