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.

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

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.” 

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.

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.

BLAC Inc. director Anita Arnold named 2012 Multicultural Citizen of the Year

Anita Arnold
According to a recent news release, the Multicultural Education Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, named Anita Arnold, executive director of Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc. as the 2012 Multicultural Citizen of the Year. 

The ceremony was held March 9, 2012, at the UCO Student Union Ballroom.  According to Dr. Silvya A. Kirk, the annual award is presented in recognition of excellence in multicultural education to an individual who must meet one or more of the Institute’s 10 selection criteria which include being an upstanding role model in the community. 

Kirk said Arnold’s years of service in multicultural and diverse activities as well as involvement in the community was what influenced the committee’s decision. 

Among the many programs that Arnold has presented that reflects multiculturalism include BLAC Inc.’s Statewide Professional Development Conference for Teachers and Artists as well as the Charlie Christian International Music Festival.  For more than 21 years, Arnold has worked to establish a reputation of excellence in the arts and education by bringing to Oklahoma experts in education and music. 

Arnold, an Oklahoma native, is the recipient of many local, state and national awards including the prestigious Governor’s Arts Award, City/County Pathmakers Award, Oklahoma Human Rights Award, and the ONE Award. She is also the author of four cultural history books on Deep Deuce and Charlie Christian.  Her most recent book is “Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond,” published by Arcadia Publishing, South Carolina. 

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.

Black Liberated Arts Center presents “Sing-Off” Season 2 winners Committed in concert

Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc., in conjunction with members of the Oklahoma Conference of Seventh Day Adventist, will present Sony Music recording artists Committed in concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Frederick Douglass High School Auditorium, 900 Martin Luther King Avenue in Oklahoma City. 

The concert will benefit the Douglass High School Band. The group – Maurice Staple, Geston Pierre, Alain “Tommy” Gervais, Theron “Therry” Thomas Jr., Robert Pressley Jr., and Dennis Baptiste Jr. – initially started as a quartet 2003 at Forest Lake Academy outside Orlando, Fla., and evolved with the addition of new members over time. With a sound reminiscent of their greatest musical influence, Take 6, the group stole the hearts of America when they walked away as the grand prize winners of the “The Sing-Off” Season 2.
The group earned a contract with Epic Records and a $100,000 cash prize. “The Sing-Off” ranked No. 1 in its timeslot, and Committed received a record number of votes, sold more than 110,000 tracks, garnered 25,000 Facebook friends and 7,000 followers on Twitter.

For more information, call BLAC Inc. at (405) 524-3800.

Mary Mary cancels Dec. 11 Christmas show in Oklahoma City

In a recent news release, Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc. in Oklahoma City announced that the “Have a Mary Mary Christmas Tour” show scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011, at Frederick A. Douglass auditorium, had been cancelled due to medical concerns surrounding the pregnancy of Erica Campbell, who is due for delivery in February.  The announcement is also posted on Mary Mary’s website (

The announcement issued by Mary Mary to BLAC Inc. indicated that the gospel duo had been on an unprecedented run of award shows, nomination, non-stop travel for holiday performances and a television series taping was forced to cancel their much anticipated first ever “Have a Mary Mary Christmas Tour” as Erica’s due date was approaching.

Anita Arnold, executive director of BLAC Inc., said that buyers of Mary Mary tickets should take their tickets to the place where they were purchased to claim their refund.  Online purchases, mail and telephone credit card purchases will be refunded through BLAC, Inc.  For more information, call (405) 524-3800 to obtain specific instructions on refunds.

BLAC Inc. extends thanks to everyone, especially, Saraa Kami, who worked hard to bring this show of excellence to the community.  An announcement of BLAC Inc.’s full season of performing arts will be made in early 2012.

“Oklahoma Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond” is subject of research project

Evelyn Larue Pittman

According to Oklahoma City author Anita G. Arnold, research is being conducted by researchers on radio in the 1940s, and included in the information being collected is the 1940s WKY radio program, “Southern Rivers.”
The program featured Evelyn Larue Pittman of Oklahoma City. Pittman had an active career in composing, teaching and choral composition during the 1930s and 1940s. A book, “Oklahoma Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond,” written by Arnold, led researchers to Oklahoma seeking information. Pittman was mentioned in Arnold’s book. Researcher Karl Schadow stated in a letter that he has been able to find only one copy of Pittman’s show in the NBC Collection at the Library of Congress.
“Here is another example of the rich music history of Oklahoma City’s African Americans that is highly valued and sought after by others outside our state. It has been my pleasure and joy to have documented some of this history in this book,” Arnold said in a news release.
“Oklahoma Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond” was published and released in June 2010. Arnold continues to accept invitations to speak about history and sign books. Her next book signing will be Sunday, August 28, 2011, at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church, 5700 N. Kelley, Oklahoma City, OK, before and after the morning worship service.
Books may be purchased at Black Liberated Arts Center Inc., Barnes & Nobles bookstore, Borders bookstore, Capitol Square Station, Charlie’s Jazz, Rhythm & Blues Store, Dean’s Typesetting Service, Full Circle Book Store, Hastings Books, Music & Videos, Walgreen’s and online through Arcadia Publishing or
For more information, call BLAC Inc. at (405) 524-3800.