Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate was born in Norman, Oklahoma and grew up surrounded by classical music. He listened to his father play Bach and Rachmaninoff on the piano. His mother was a professor of dance and a choreographer. He spent evenings and weekends at rehearsals and performances of ballets and musicals.
Tate studied the piano and had no intention of becoming a composer. But at the rather advanced age of 23, his mother asked him to write an original ballet score based on American Indian stories from the Northern Plains and Rocky Mountains.
"It was the first time I actually thought of marrying the two very strong identities that I have," Tate says. "One is being a Chickasaw Indian, and the other one is being a classical musician. My mother presented the perfect opportunity for me to express both of those together."