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BLAC Inc. director to receive Creative Women of Oklahoma Award

Anita Arnold

Anita G. Arnold, executive director of Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc. in Oklahoma City, OK, has been chosen to receive the Creative Women of Oklahoma Award at noon on Saturday, June 9 by Delta Kappa Gamma of the International Society for Key Women Educators.

Arnold learned in a letter that she would receive the Gamma State award as the author of “Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond.” The award is given in recognition of Oklahoma women who excel through an expression of creativity that encourages, inspires and reaches children. According to the letter, “the extraordinary story of the place and people of Deep Deuce is exemplary of these qualities.

Delta Kappa Gamma Society of International Society for Key Women Educators is a professional honorary society of 150,000 women from 14 different countries. It is a membership by invitation only society. Among their several purposes are 1) To unite women educators of the world in a genuine spiritual fellowship and 2) To honor women who have given or who evidence a potential for distinctive service in any field of education.

Arnold, who is in the field of arts education, said she is thrilled to have been recognized by the international organization for the work that she has done. 

“It is reflective of the great music history, traditions and African Americans in Oklahoma City. It is wonderful to know that others in our state and across the world think so highly of this history,” she said in a news release. “I am just an instrument to bring that awareness to Oklahoma. It is an honor, indeed, and an humbling experience to find myself in this place at this time.”

The affair will be held at Yukon High School. Arnold will do a book signing of “Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond” at the event. She is an author of three other books.

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27th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival kicks off in Oklahoma City on May 29

Charlie Christian

In a recent news release, Anita Arnold, executive director of Black Liberated Arts Center Inc. in Oklahoma City, said, “The 27th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival promises to be full of nostalgia, great music of many genres, food, arts and crafts and so much more. The event will be spread out in four different venues.”

The festival kicked off at 8:30 a.m.Tuesday, May 29, 2012, at the Oklahoma City Council Chambers at 8:30 a.m. with the Morris McCraven Trio setting a jazzy atmosphere for the festival. Mayor Mick Cornett officially proclaimed this week as Charlie Christian Festival week (May 29 through June 3, 2012). Urban Roots, located in the heart of Deep Deuce featured at 6 p.m. music, the opening of the Deep Deuce Photo Exhibit and a book signing by Anita G. Arnold, author of “Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond.” 

On Wednesday, May, 30, Douglass High School is the venue for the Frederick A. Douglass High School Band program, which includes a performance by the award-winning Douglass
band, acknowledgement of those who contributed to the band drive to outfit a 100-piece marching band, and a special exhibit of the school’s fine arts department during its hey day from the 1940s through the 1950s. The Oklahoma History Center is the curator of the exhibit that will include a saxophone from the 1940s belonging to Jack Washington, photos of bands, choirs, choruses, sheet music and more. 

Arnold said, “It is time to reclaim our excellence and history. These two exhibits acquaint young and old with a golden period in the African American experience.” The free event is open to the public and opens at 1:00 p.m.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, May 31, there will be jamming across Oklahoma City as musicians and singers sit in with bands at Woody’s Sports Bar and Grill and Urban Roots. Musicians are admitted free and are invited to jam with the house band as their admission to the event. Everybody else pays $5 at the door. The public is invited to come out and check it out.

The outdoor festival on Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2 begins at 6 p.m. at the Metro Technology Amphitheater, 1900 Springlake Drive. Reality and the New Era opens the festival on Friday with follow-up artists Equilibrium, Billie Jeane and the Robert Banks Band. Popular group After Five Jazz will headline and close out Friday night’s big fun in the park. This will be the first appearance of the group since the mid-1990s when the group went on to other things. Congo Drummer Tre Balfour of Palmdale, Calif., will join soul mates drummer Walter Taylor, keyboardist David Carter, and guitarist Maurice as they bring back their heart wrenching, top tapping sound that landed them gigs, backing artists such as Lala Hathaway and opening for guitarist George Benson, among others.

On Saturday, June 2, Miss Cooki, noted for her distinct vocals, will open and insure a memorable experience. Spencer Brown and The Dudes follow and set the stage right for Jeremy Jackson and Sultry Sound. The fresh new sounds in this year’s festival flow right into the smooth jazz sounds of Tulsa saxophonist Grady Nichols, who opens for headliner Jeremy Thomas Quartet. Thomas recently returned from touring with David Sanborn. Thomas is, the drummer for two-time Grammy Award nominee and world renowned jazz organist Joey Defrancesco. Thomas will leave on two tours in June and is scheduled for a Jazz Cruise next year. 

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for both days. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets, lawn chairs or comfortable seating. No food or beverages will be allowed through the gates.

At 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 3, at Frederick A. Douglass High School Auditorium, the Rev. Dr. A. Cortes Rex will be featured in a gospel show, “A Tribute to James Cleveland.” Rex, who was influenced by Cleveland, the late founder of the Gospel Music Workshops of America, will narrate and sing during the tribute. Rex was born in Wichita, Kan., but grew up in Tulsa. He lives in California, where he as been a resident since graduating from Langston University. Rex has established a reputation with two of his most popular shows that pay homage to James Cleveland and Dr. Martin L. King. 

Tickets are on sale for the show and the outdoor festival at Charlie’s Jazz, Rhythm and Blues Store, Guestroom Records, Hopkins Haircare, Learning Tree Toys and Books and Woody’s Sports Bar & Grill. The Charlie Christian International Music Festival is sponsored by BancFirst, Oklahoma Arts Council, City of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Natural Gas Co., Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., EMSA, Friends of the Historical Society Archives, and Tinker Federal Credit Union. This is a BLAC Inc. production.

Charlie Christian International Music Festival Band Line Up

Friday, June 1, 2012

6 – 6:45 p.m. Reality and the New Era

7 – 7:45 p.m.  Equilibrium

8 – 8:45 p.m. Billie Jeane

9 – 9:45 p.m.  Robert Banks Band

10 – 11:15 p.m. After Five Jazz

Saturday, June 2, 2012

6 – 6:45 p.m.  Miss Cooki

7 – 7:45 p.m. Spencer Brown and the Dudes

8 – 8:45 p.m. Jeremy Jackson and Sultry Soul

9 – 10 p.m. Grady Nichols Band

10:15 – 11:30 p.m.  Jeremy Thomas Quartet

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BLAC Inc. director Anita Arnold receives Charlie Christian Tribute in Texas

Anita Arnold, right, receives framed Tribute to Charlie Christian.

During an evening of celebration and tribute to Charlie Christian in Bonham, Texas, Anita Arnold, executive director of Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC), Inc. of Oklahoma City, OK, was presented a framed Tribute to Charlie Christian made from the wood of the house where the jazz legend was born. 

The tribute contained the words to the song “Rose Room” that launched Christian’s career with Benny Goodman and, ultimately, led to his iconic stature in the music world. A picture of Charlie Christian and his birthplace are, also, included in the tribute that sold for $1,000 in an auction and was donated by the owner of the piece.

The evening was filled with Charlie Christian music played by the James Deering Quartet of Grayson College. The talented guitarist, Seve Mexia, featured in the quartet played music that he transcribed from music played from Charlie Christian CDs as a final test from his jazz music professor at the college. Arnold narrated the concert with little-known information about Charlie Christian throughout the evening. The evening concluded with a book signing by Arnold, author of the book, “Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond.” 

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Rev. Dr. A. Cortes Rex Jr. featured in Charlie Christian International Music Festival in June

Rev. Dr. A. Cortes Rex Jr.

The Rev. Dr. A. Cortes Rex Jr. of Los Angeles is scheduled to appear in Oklahoma City on June 3, 2012, during the 27th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival. The gospel concert, a tribute to the late Rev. James Cleveland, founder of the Gospel Music Workshops of America, will be held at 5 p.m. at Frederick A.Douglass Auditorium.

Rex, a friend of Cleveland, said in a recent news release, he recalled that during the formative years of his singing ministry, he was influenced by Cleveland, Clara Ward and Allie B. Anderson (his grandfather), Aretha Franklin and many others. Rex never dreamed that he would meet Rev. Cleveland and someday do a show in tribute to a man whose songs touched him and many others.

Born in Wichita, Kan., Rex grew up in Tulsa, OK, where he attended Booker T. Washington High School. Following graduation, he attended Langston University, where he graduated in 1980 with honors and was voted the Most Talented Male in his senior year. He later pursued a Masters of Administration Degree at California State University at Dominguez Hills in Long Beach, Calif.

He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and is the president and producer of Signs
and Wonders Inc. Rex sang background for live performances and recording sessions with well-known gospel and secular artists. He received the City of Los Angeles Motown Award in  April 2008. He was nominated to the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 2009.

 Rex will perform the show, “A Tribute to Rev. James Cleveland” and will be joined by Gospel Music Workshops of Oklahoma musicians and other special guests. Tickets are $10 and $15 for VIP seats. For more information, call Black Liberated Arts Center Inc. at (405) 524-3800.

The Charlie Christian International Music Festival is sponsored by BLAC Inc., Friends of the Oklahoma City/County Historical Society and Oklahoma Arts Council and Integris Health.

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Ugandan orphans spread hope for children in poverty

The Ugandan Orphans Choir, a group of 10 talented children ranging from ages 11 to 14, has announced that they will be performing in Oklahoma during the month of May. All 10 children have been given hope through Childcare Worldwide’s sponsorship program, and now they devote their energy to helping other children have access to sponsorship and education.

These exuberant children delight audiences as they dance in colorful, traditional
costumers accompanied by authentic African drums and other instruments. They sing
African songs in their native language, which in Luganda, and have learned some songs
in English as well. Former audience member Kurt Swanson said in a new release, “Audiences just can’t seem to get enough of what these children have to share; from their natural musical
talents to their raw expression of African culture. People are also amazed by the deep joy
these children have despite the circumstances they came from.”

Each of the 10  children has a story to tell about how their lives have been changed through the power of education provided through Childcare Worldwide’s sponsorship program. The choir has performed in churches and schools nationwide, as well as reputable venues such as Disneyland, KING 5 Television’s “New Day Northwest” as well as Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks.

The Ugandan Orphans Choir will be performing at the following locations in Oklahoma City:
1 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, 2012 – Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.

1 p.m. Thursday, May 24, 2012 – Douglass High School.

1 p.m. Friday, May 25, 2012 – Wilson Arts Integration Elementary School.

The Ugandan Orphans Choir is a ministry of Childcare Worldwide and has been devoted to transforming lives of children for over 30 years in nine developing countries. Childcare Worldwide seeks to make learning and the hope of future employment possible for every child they serve. The ultimate goal of sponsorship and education is to break the cycle of poverty in children’s lives.

According to Anita G. Arnold, executive director of BLAC Inc., the concerts are free and open to the public. For more information, call BLAC Inc. at (405) 524-3800.

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BLAC Inc. launches Douglass High School musical instrument campaign in Oklahoma City

At a recent concert, Anita Arnold, executive director of Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc. in Oklahoma City, appealed to the audience to donate instruments that were not being used to the marching band at Frederick A. Douglass High School.  

In a recent news release, Arnold said BLAC Inc. had purchased nine used instruments and another 10 or more had been donated by the public. She said the goal is to provide instruments to build the marching band to 100 members and provide instruments to five elementary feeder schools for a music program at the elementary school level.

“Zelia N. Page Breaux, an iconic music teacher and daughter of Inman Page, Langston University’s first President, had a similar strategy as she put in place a system that produced great musicians such as Charlie Christian, Jimmy Rushing, C. E. Pittman and so many more masters of music,” Arnold said.  “I am honored to assist Charles Moore, band director in reaching his goals.  We are both determined to bring Douglass back to its former greatness that produced merit scholars and legends.”

Indicating the seriousness of the project, Arnold said that every day of the school week, Moore loads up Douglass’ music instruments and goes to a different elementary school to teach music.

“He works hard at this daily routine and returns to Douglass to teach his students there.  Mr. Moore is to be commended,” Arnold said.  “In fact, Douglass’ band was the only Oklahoma band selected to participate in the Battle of the Bands competition in Houston last month.  Douglass placed third in the small band competition.  It shows that there is great potential for becoming nationally known again.  Remember the music improves critical thinking skills and that is good for employers looking for employees.  These contributions (money or instruments) are tax-deductible.”

Anyone interested in participating in the project may call Arnold at (405) 524-3800 or Moore at (405) 587-4200.  Financial donations may be mailed to BLAC Inc., P.O. Box 11014, Oklahoma City, OK 73136.

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Ailey II performance to bridge gaps in Oklahoma City

In a recent news release Anita Arnold, executive director of Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC), Inc. announced that the 8:00 p.m. Ailey II performance on Saturday, March 26, 2011, at Douglass High School Auditorium in Oklahoma City has become a family engagement activity.  
“One of the common complaints we hear about lack of success in schools is that there is little or no parental involvement,” Arnold said. “As we contacted principals at Douglass High School, M. L. King, Wilson, and Highland Park Elementary Schools, for distribution of complimentary tickets to students made possible by one of the local foundations, it was suggested that this event could engage children and parents to bridge the gap between family and school.  We embraced the idea.” 
 The idea caught on quickly and the request for tickets quickly outpaced available tickets.  BLAC Inc. immediately extended their fundraising campaign to provide tickets to fill the requests.
 Hundreds of children and two members of their families will have an opportunity to see and meet the artists that perform with this world renowned dance company, in their community and in one of the local high schools.  
“It gives children a chance to dream and see new possibilities that they never imagined.  In some cases, it may be the light in a life filled with hopelessness,” Arnold said.  “We are happy to step forward to provide this service to our community.  It just might inspire a student to go on to a better future with parental support.”  
Family packets of 3 are available for $75, and 10 tickets may be purchased for $250 by persons or organizations interested in making a tax-deductible donation to sponsor families in the family engagement project.  Donors will be acknowledged in the printed program and by letter.
Ailey II will perform several well-known pieces such as “I Been Buked,” “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel,”  “Fix Me, Jesus” “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham” and “I Wanna Be Ready.”  General admission is $30, and tickets are on sale at Capitol Square Station, Charlie’s Jazz Rhythm and Blues Store, Hopkins Haircare, KM66, and Learning Tree Toys and Books.  $60 tickets for reserve seating and VIP reception may be purchased through BLAC Inc.  For more information on family packets, students, seniors and groups discounts, call BLAC Inc. at (405) 524-3800 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (405) 524-3800      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
This performance is made possible through funding from the Inasmuch Foundation and the Oklahoma Arts Council.

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“Kirk Whalum Plays Donnie Hathaway” on January 22 at Soul Food Dinner Theater in Oklahoma City

Kirk Whalum, smooth jazz saxophonist, music educator and songwriter, will perform on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2010, at the Petroleum Club in downtown Oklahoma City, OK.  A soul food buffet begins at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m.
“It is not everyday that one has an opportunity to have a scrumptious meal and see an 11-time Grammy nominee perform live at the most elegant restaurant in their city,” Anita Arnold, executive director of Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC), Inc. said in a news release.  Whalum is the opening act of BLAC Inc.’s 2011 season opener.

Whalum, born in Memphis, Tenn., grew up surrounded by music.  

“He was the son of a preacher man, Rev. Kenneth Whalum and wife, Helen,” Arnold said.  “Memphis was known as the R&B capital of the South during those days.”
In addition to singing in his father’s church choir, Whalum also learned to love music from his grandmother, Thelma Twigg Whalum, a piano teacher and two uncles, Wendell Whalum and Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum, who performed with jazz bands across the country.  
These influences proved lasting, as Kirk Whalum once told magazine “Ebony” in a 1994 profile: “The music I like to play and write encompasses the four elements I grew up with: Memphis R&B, gospel, rock and jazz.  The emphasis, though, is on melody, period.”  
In recent years, Whalum’s musical genius and experiences have led to him obtaining 11 Grammy nominations, becoming chief executive officer of Soulsville Foundation and other honors.  The Soulsville Foundation includes oversight responsibility for the STAX Museum of American Soul Music and the Soulsville Charter School of Memphis.
Cost is $70 for the dinner and show.  Tickets can be purchased at Capitol Square Station, Charlie’s Jazz Rhythm and Blues Store, Hopkins Haircare, KM66, and Learning Tree Toy Store or through BLAC Inc., all in Oklahoma City.  For more information, call (405) 524-3800.  The Oklahoma Arts Council and the Ad Astra Foundation are sponsors of this event.

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Monthly jazz program series begins at Oklahoma City’s Douglass High School

Left to right, Earl Day, Keyboards, Delmar Burge, Drums and Kirbie Greene, Congas.

According to a recent news release, Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc. is sponsoring a monthly jazz program as a reward for students at Frederick A. Douglass High School in Oklahoma City. The program is a new initiative that starts this month at the request of Douglass High School Principal Brian Staples as part of the comprehensive program funded by the National Black McDonald’s Operators Association (NBMOA). 
“The 2010–11 school year begins a long term commitment for NBMOA to work with students and faculties of Frederick A. Douglass High School and its feeder schools to provide services through BLAC, Inc. to get student state performance scores up to meet state and national standards,” NBMOA President Darryl Umphries said.  “We have adopted this project to ensure the success of Douglass and its associated schools.  In doing so, we will have contributed significantly to improving the entire community.  It is a strong collaboration of partners that will demonstrate that positive change will result when people work together.  We are happy to be a part of an exciting future for our community and our schools.” 
The Earl Day Trio kicked-off the jazz series on Sept. 10, 2010, and will be followed by the Moe Williams Band on Oct. 8, 2010, and Kelvin Drake Band on Nov. 5, 2010. The free performances are open to the public.
“Other bands will be scheduled for the rest of the school year,” said Anita Arnold, BLAC Inc. executive director. “These bands will perform from 1:15 p.m. until 2:40 p.m. on each date.” 

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Contemporary jazz artist Najee to headline 25th annual Charlie Christian International Festival in June 2010

Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc. announced today that contemporary jazz artist Najee will headline the 25th annual Charlie Christian International Jazz Festival at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 5, 2010, at Regatta Park in Oklahoma City, OK.
With three platinum and five gold albums, Najee (born Jerome Najee Rasheed) is one of the pioneers of what is commonly known as contemporary jazz.  A native of Queens, New York, Najee began his career playing clarinet and later saxophone and flute.  While in high school, he began studying under the direction of Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, and Billy Taylor at Jazzmobile in Harlem.  Najee also studied flute with Harold Jones at the Manhattan School of Music. 
Najee, along with his brother Fareed, attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston with a concentrated study in performance and composition. The brothers moved back to New York and were asked to tour with the R&B songstress Chaka Khan. 
After the release of his debut album “Najee’s Theme” in 1986, Najee embarked on a U.S. tour with Freddie Jackson.  “Najee’s Theme” went platinum and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1987.  Najee’s sophomore album “Day by Day” also went platinum.  These albums were followed by “Tokyo Blue” and “Just an Illusion.”  In 1994, Najee recorded “Share My World.” 
Najee’s 1995 recording on EMI records was dedicated to one of his favorite artists and good friend, Stevie Wonder.  It was titled “Najee Plays Songs from the Key of Life: A Tribute to Stevie Wonder.” 
In 1998, Najee produced “Morning Tenderness.”  He is the recipient of many awards. Over the years, Najee has worked with may great artists such as Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle, George Duke, Lionel Richie and Prince. 
Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the gate. Tickets may be purchased online at ProTix or at any Buy for Less store.  For more information, call (405) 524-3800 or go to