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.

Black Liberated Arts Center Inc. closes 40th anniversary season with Ailey II Dance Company

Ailey II’s Solomon Dumas. Photo by Eduardo Patino, NYC

Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc. closes its 40th anniversary season with the renowned Ailey II Dance Company from New York City at 8 p.m. March 26, 2011, in the Douglass High School auditorium, 900 N Martin Luther King Ave. in Oklahoma City, OK. 
The Ailey II Dance Company, a 35-year-old company under the direction of artistic director Sylvia Waters, will perform the several well-known performances such as Revelations and Take Me to the Water.
Ailey II embodies Alvin Ailey’s pioneering mission to establish an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training and community programs for all people using the beauty and humanity of the African-American heritage and other cultures to unite people of all races, ages and backgrounds.
While in the city, the company will conduct two master classes at Oklahoma City University and the University of Central Oklahoma.  Tickets are available at BLAC Inc. or the following ticket outlets: Capitol Square Station, Charlie’s Jazz, Rhythm and Blues Store, Hopkins Haircare, KM66, or Learning Tree Toy Store.  For group discounts, senior and student discounts contact BLAC Inc. at (405) 524-3800. General admission is $30, and $60 for reserved seating and VIP reception.
This event is sponsored in part by Inasmuch Foundation and the Oklahoma Arts Council.  

“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.

“Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond” presented to Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry

From left: Gov. Brad Henry and author Anita Arnold

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry was presented a copy of the recently published book, “Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond” by Anita Arnold, author and executive director of Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc. in Oklahoma City. 
Gov. Henry was pleased to receive the book that covers more than 70 years of music history from the late 1920s to the late 1990s. Henry said he was interested in this history that has contributed so much to Oklahoma.  
According to Emily Higgins, publicist of Arcadia Publishing of Mount Pleasant, S.C., “Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond” was also selected to compete with 10 other books in the region as part of a national sales competition within Arcadia.
“We have already had a number of book signings in and around Oklahoma City that have been fun,” Arnold said.  “Each audience is different and raises new questions each time.
Arnold will participate in other book signings scheduled through February 2011 at various locations in the Oklahoma City area.  “Oklahoma City Music: Deep Deuce and Beyond” is available at Barnes and Nobles, Borders, Capitol Square Station, Charlie’s Jazz, Rhythm & Blues Store, Dean’s Typesetting, Hastings Books, Music and Videos, Hopkins Haircare, Learning Tree Toy Store and Walgreens.

Famed African Children’s Choir to perform in Oklahoma City in November 2010

According to a recent news release, the world-renowned African Children’s Choir will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010,  at the Frederick A. Douglass High School auditorium, 900 N Martin Luther King Ave. in Oklahoma City. The event marks the opening performance of the 2010-11 season of performing arts presented by Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc.  As BLAC Inc. nears the end of its 40th anniversary, the choir that started in 1984 will be the first performance of the season but will end a year-long celebration of the arts as presented by BLAC Inc.
The African Children’s Choir performances are a fundraiser to help orphans on the continent.  Funds from performances support projects that provide food, medical assistance and education.  Through the music of choir members, many of whom are homeless, millions of dollars have been raised to start schools, fight diseases such as AIDS and establish centers where children are fed.
Good Morning America” featured the choir in 2009 in concert following a magnificent performance on “American Idol.”  The African Children’s Choir have also appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and at the White House in August 2008 as former President George W. Bush signed the H. R. 5501, or the Global AIDS Initiative Renewal bill, to greatly increase foreign aid for those in Africa suffering from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The African Children’s Choir performed for Her Majesty the Queen of England and former South African President Nelson Mandela.  
 “It is a way that Oklahoma can make a contribution to these projects while enjoying a performance fit for a Queen or President, for that matter,” said Anita Arnold, BLAC Inc. executive director.  “This is one of many ways, Oklahoma can make an impact felt around the world, through BLAC Inc. and its programs.  The performance is open to the public, and we encourage you to come.” 
The performance is made possible through funding provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council. Tickets are on sale and may be purchased at the following Oklahoma City locations: Capitol Square Station, Charlie’s Jazz, Rhythm & Blues Store, KM66 and Learning Tree Toy Store.  For more information, call (405) 524-3800 or to sample some of the choir’s music, go online to

Oklahoma City’s Black Liberated Arts Center Inc. announces headliners for 2010-11 season

African Children’s Choir

Ailey II Dance Company of New York

Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc. of  Oklahoma City, OK recently announced headliners for the upcoming 2010-11 season of performing arts and a new venue for ongoing performances. 
 “Beginning this year, most of BLAC Inc.’s performances will be held at Frederick A. Douglass High School auditorium, said Anita Arnold, BLAC Inc. executive director.  “However, the Soul Food Dinner Theater performances will continue to be held at the downtown Petroleum Club. The beautiful 1,200-seat auditorium fits our needs, as well as any other venue in the city, and it is conveniently located. In our 40th anniversary year, it is appropriate that we celebrate it by launching our 2010-11 season at Douglass.” 
The African Children’s Choir will open the season at Fredrick A. Douglass High School auditorium on Nov. 7, 2010, and Ailey II Dance Company of New York will perform at the auditorium on March 26, 2011.  
Grammy Award -winning jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum will headline the Soul Food Dinner series in a show, “Kirk Whalum Plays Donnie Hathaway” on Jan. 15, 2010, at the Petroleum Club in Oklahoma City. 

Kirk Whalum

“We are excited about our partnership at Douglass High School that includes professional development programs, performances and so much more,” Arnold said. “This is part of how we intend to continue our service to the community. BLAC, Inc. is offering a special Early Bird subscription to the 2010-11 season.  It is our way of offering savings on advanced ticket purchases.” 
The performances are partially funded through the Oklahoma Arts Council.  For more information, call BLAC Inc. at (405) 524-3800. 

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

Child advocate Geoffrey Canada to speak on April 28 in Oklahoma City

Anita G. Arnold, executive director of Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC), Inc., has announced that Geoffrey Canada, nationally known child advocate who founded Harlem Children’s Zone will speak from 1 to 3 p.m. April 28 at the Petroleum Club, 4040 N. Lincoln Blvd. 2nd floor, in Oklahoma City. Tickets are $40.  No tickets will be sold at the door, and seating is limited.  
Canada is known for helping impoverished, at-risk youth beat the odds.  Canada’s programs are on the cutting edge of preventing youth violence and fostering community development.  He transformed a 24-block area in Harlem, NY, and developed a network of services that has helped  more than 10,000 children.  
 The 2010 Brock Prize Laureate was presented a $40,000 award for excellence in education by Oklahoma University President David Boren and Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis at Tulsa University.  Canada is also a recipient of the Heinz Award which carries a $250,000 prize.  Canada has appeared on numerous television shows including “60 Minutes” and “The Colbert Report.”  He is also seen in an American Express television commercial that speaks of his ground-breaking work. 
Arnold said in a news release, “Oklahoma City is fortunate to have Mr. Canada come to share his experiences.  Anyone who is serious about changing the lives of children and profoundly changing communities should be there.  There is no one in America more qualified to address the issues of America’s children.  Mr. Canada knows what he is talking about.  He has lived it, written about it, inspired children and showed them how to succeed using his resources for their good.  We need to listen.”
BLAC, Inc., Enid Public Schools, Mid-Del Schools and Oklahoma City Public Schools will host the event.  For more information, call BLAC, Inc. at (405) 524-3800.   

25th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival to convene June 1-6 in Oklahoma City

Black Liberated Arts Center Inc. announced this week that the 25th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival will be held June 1-6, 2010, in Oklahoma City. This popular event will be held at several downtown venues.
 The Charlie Christian International Music Festival is the center piece of Oklahoma’s rich music history that produced international personalities Charlie Christian, father of Bebop; jazz and blues singer Jimmy Rushing; the Blue Devils, famous Territorial Band and Ralph Ellison, the voice of jazz music.
Urban contemporary jazz artist Najee and other well-known music acts (yet to be announced) will be the headliners for this year’s festival. There are more than 12 jazz, blues, gospel, rhythm & blues bands from Europe and the United States features in this year’s festival.
The Charlie Christian International Music Festival has featured music greats such as Regina Carter, the late Isaac Hayes, Branford Marsalis, the late Claude “Fiddler” Williams, Jay McShann and Little Milton; George Benson, Kirk Whalum and many others. Over the past 24 years, more than 500,000 people have danced to the music, snapped their fingers, and had a ball at the indoor and outdoor activities of the festival.

BLAC Inc. presents “An Evening with Ray Charles” Soul Food Dinner Theater on April 17 in Oklahoma City