This year’s Charlie Christian International Music Festival in Oklahoma City is attracting a contingent of people from the Lone Star state who have started their own celebrations of legendary guitarist Charlie Christian in Texas.
“We welcome everybody from near and far to join us in this history laden event,” festival chairman Mark Temple said in a news release. “We want them to know that not everything big happens in Texas. There are big things happening right here in Oklahoma City. For the first time, we have four headliners for our event – Joe McBride, Najee, All Funk Radio Show, and Kirk Whalum and so much more.”
The 2013 festival is the beginning of a launch to the 100th anniversary of Christian in 2016.
“We invite the community to join us in making this one of the biggestand best events, yet,” Temple said. “We are pleased that the last two days of the festival will be held at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, site of the first Frederick A. Douglass High School established in 1896. In fact, the site will be special to these out of town guests because the murals on the walls of the ballpark showcase Charlie Christian, Calvary Baptist Church where his funeral was held, the Aldridge Theater where Charlie’s picture hung on the walls for years and so much more of the Deep Deuce History.”
Other special guests expected at the festival are remaining members of Charlie Christian’s family. Freddy Jenkins, a cousin to Christian, will travel from Arizona with his family to attend the event. Oklahoma Sen. Connie Johnson will present a proclamation at the Ralph Ellison program, and state Rep. Anastasia Pittman will open the festival at the ballpark.
To add to the festive occasion, Anita Arnold, executive director of Black Liberated Arts Center, said that as a bonus to the first 500 two-day ticket holders on Friday night, there will be free parking next to the ballpark at the red parking lot on the east side of Joe Carter Avenue. The festival will feature three events that are free to the public.
The festival schedule can be found at here, and tickets can be purchased online or in community outlets. Proceeds from the festival benefit will benefit BLAC, Inc. (Black Liberated Arts Center), a local not-for-profit organization known for presenting and producing educational arts programs and preserving African American history in Oklahoma City.
The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main St. in Houston, Texas, will debut its first production from Jan. 31 to Feb. 24, 2013, by award winning playwright Charles Smith as its 2012-2013 season continues. The show will be directed by visiting artist Chuck Smith, resident director at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.
“Knock Me a Kiss” takes place during the 1920s in Harlem. The story follows Yolonda DuBois, a woman torn between two lovers. One is a fast-living musician, Jimmy Lunceford, the other a poet, Countee Cullen, sanctioned by her father, activist W.E.B. DuBois. This fictional account is inspired by the actual events surrounding the 1928 marriage of W.E.B. Du Bois’ daughter Yolande to one of Harlem’s great poets, Countee Cullen. The marriage marked the height of the Harlem Renaissance and was viewed as the perfect union of Negro talent and beauty. It united the daughter of America’s foremost black intellectual, co-founder of the NAACP and publisher of Crisis Magazine, with a poet whose work was considered to be one of the flagships for the New Negro movement. At what personal cost does a leader pay to make life better for so many others when he is blind to those living in his own home?
The Ensemble Theatre’s 2012-2013 Season is sponsored in part by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance and Texas Commission on the Arts. United Airlines is the exclusive airline sponsor for The Ensemble Theatre. For more information, call (713) 520-0055.