Plans unfold for the 100th anniversary celebration honoring Charlie Christian

Mark Temple, chairman of the Charlie Christian Festival committee
Mark Temple, chairman of the Charlie Christian Festival committee

In a recent new release, Mark Temple, chairman of the Charlie Christian Festival committee, revealed that plans are going well for the 100th Anniversary celebration of the late Charlie Christian and his legacy. Temple said the Deep Deuce Business Association is collaborating with Black Liberated Arts Center, Inc., festival sponsor. to create a memorable experience for Oklahoma and that will attract music lovers from around the world.

The event, to be held June 2 to 5, 2016, near the Deep Deuce area will have a number of special surprises including an appearance of the only remaining guitar that Charlie Christian owned. There will be special moments such as a brief memorial at or near Calvary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City where Christian’s funeral was held and a New Orleans style festival parade. As always, there will be plenty of family type engagement activities right along with good food, good fun and great music.

Musical artist, visual artists as well as food and non-food vendors who wish to participate should call (405) 524-3800 or visit the website at Selection of musicians will begin near the end of April.

“The 100th celebration only comes once in a lifetime, so our intent is to make this festival stand out as no other festival has,” Temple concluded. The event is funded in part by BancFirst, the Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Sponsorships are still available by calling (405) 524-3800.

arts jazz music performances United States

Oklahoma City’s Charlie Christian Music Festival activities to be re-scheduled

Mark Temple
Mark Temple

Mark Temple, chairman of the 2013 Charlie Christian International Music Festival, announced via a recent news release the updated schedule of events that will take place during the weekend of the festival in Oklahoma City.  The “Feel Deep Deuce Brunch” scheduled at Urban Roots, 322 NE 2nd St. in Oklahoma City, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. is on schedule for Saturday, June 8.  There will not be an admission charge.  The music will be provided by “Miss Muffy and Friends” and Deep Deuce stories with author Anita Arnold.

Other events at the Bricktown Ballpark are being re-scheduled for a later date because of complications arising from the recent tornadoes and flooding.

“While Saturday and Sunday may look like perfect days, the recent and continued rains have inhibited our ability to properly stage and produce the concerts.  The public will be notified of the re-schedule of these programs,” Temple said.  “Expectations are that the concerts will likely be scheduled later this year or early fall, most likely,” he concluded.  Ticket buyers can get refunds by going to outlets where they purchased or they may hold on to their tickets which will be honored at the re-scheduled events.

For more information, check the Charlie Christian website at or call (405) 524-3800. 


arts jazz music Oklahoma performances United States

2013 Charlie Christian Festival attracts special guests as journey to centennial begins

Charlie Christian
Charlie Christian

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.


Joe McBride, Najee, and Kirk Whalum to headline June music festival in Oklahoma City

The Charlie Christian International Music Festival will feature national artists Joe McBride, Najee, and Kirk Whalum in concert at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Friday and Saturday nights, June 7 and 8 in Oklahoma City.    They will be joined by All Funk Radio Show from Dallas, TX, and Grady Nichols from Tulsa.  Also feature in the lineup are Matt Stansberry & The Romance and the Robert Banks & Classic Edge.

Gates will open at 6 p.m. Friday, June 7, and the show starts at 7 p.m.  On Saturday, June 8, gates open at 3:30 p.m. and the final concert of the week begins 4:30 p.m.  Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased online at the festival website, or  For more information, call Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc. at (405) 524-3800.  According to Mark Temple, festival chairman, tickets may be purchased at the following Oklahoma City outlets:  Charlie’s Jazz, Rhythm & Blues Store, Hopkins HairCare and Learning Tree Toys and Books.

The festival runs June 4-8 and has three free events associated with it.  The opening event, “Ralph Ellison Understood Through Charlie Christian,” will beat 7 p.m. June 4 at the Oklahoma History Center.  Music will be provided by TaylorMadeJazz.  This event is free and funded in part by the Oklahoma Humanities (OHS) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).  Other funding is provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council, Friends of the Oklahoma City/County Historical Society Archives, Friends of the Oklahoma City/County Historical Society and BancFirst.

Wednesday, June 5 is the date for the Jam Session at Woody’s Sport Bar and Grill at 7 p.m.  Musicians are admitted free, and general admission is $5.  The Battle of the Bands between Shortt Dogg and the 411 Band takes place on Thursday, June 6 in Lower Bricktown, on the Lower Bricktown Plaza and is presented by Chevy Music Showcase.  Deep Deuce’s Urban Roots is the place on Saturday, June 7 for a delicious brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with music by “Miss Muffy” & Friends and stories of Deep Deuce told by Anita Arnold, author, “Oklahoma City Music:  Deep Deuce and Beyond.  This family friendly event will feature non-food and arts and crafts vendors.



Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble to perform in Oklahoma City


According to a recent news release, Black Liberated Arts Center Inc. (BLAC Inc.) will present the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Frederick A. Douglass High School Auditorium, 900 N. Martin L. King Jr. in Oklahoma City. The 40-year-old Denver-based company, in the middle of its Spring tour, will travel to Crested Butte, Colo., and Seattle, Wash., before the Oklahoma City appearance.

Led by its founder, executive director and choreographer Cleo Parker Robinson, the company has performed in Iceland, Singapore, Hawaii, Nassau, Belize, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and throughout Europe and Africa. Parker Robinson holds an honorary doctorate degree from Denver University (1991), an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Colorado College (2003) and an honorary doctorate of Public Service from Regis University, Denver (2008).

In 1998, President Clinton named Parker Robinson as one of two artists to be appointed to the National Council on the Arts in Washington, D.C., where she served until 2005. She received a Kennedy Center Medal of Honor during the center’s “Master of African American Choreographers” series.

The dance ensemble will arrive on Feb. 20 and will work with Oklahoma City fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from several area schools. Selected students will perform a welcome dance at Douglass on the same stage as the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble.

This performance is made possible by the MetLife Community Connections Fund of the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project. Major support for the National Dance Project is also provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Local support is provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council and the Ad Astra Foundation.

Tickets for the performance are on sale at Learning Tree Toys, Charlie’s Jazz, Rhythm & Blues Store and Hopkins HairCare at $20 general admission. VIP tickets that include reserved seats and a reception are $50 and can be purchased at BLAC Inc. offices using MasterCard, Visa, checks or cash. Discount tickets are offered at BLAC Inc. For more information, call (405) 524-3800.

arts United States

Black Liberated Arts Center Inc. launches new image

Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc.’s board of directors are (left) Jon Wood, first vice president; Jacquelyn Jemison, second vice president and secretary; Kenneth Lawson, president; and David Reed, treasurer.

Black Liberated Arts Center (BLAC) Inc. in Oklahoma City announced sweeping changes in launching the 2012-13 organizational image. With a theme of “Reclaiming our Identity: Tributes to Greatness,” a continuation of the theme “Reclaiming our Identity” which celebrated women begun in 2011, BLAC Inc. moves forward with a look of “newness.”

Prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year, the organization relocated its office into the newly renovated Lincoln Professional Suites located at 4500 N. Lincoln Blvd., Suite 106. Anita Arnold, BLAC Inc. executive director, said in a news release  everyone who has come by the office is very impressed.

“They like our new look, even though we occupy less space. Visitors who have visited include two guests from Ghana,” she said.

New officers elected to serve three-year terms beginning July 1 are Jon Wood, first vice president; Jacquelyn Jemison, second vice president and secretary, Kenneth Lawson, president and David Reed, treasurer.

Lawson is a retired IBM executive; Wood is employed by the State of Oklahoma. Jemison is employed by the University of Central Oklahoma and is the first lady at St. John Missionary Baptist Church. Reed is an Actuary at First Fidelity Corp.

Two new members joined the board of directors for a three-year term. They are Dr. Norma Cole Simpson, retired principal for Oklahoma City Public Schools, and April Rose Jackson,  co-owner of Abrakadoodle Oklahoma, a national franchise of Children’s Arts Integrated Activities serving children from 20 months to 14 years old. Jackson shares ownership of the franchise with her husband, Isaac Jackson, who is serving in Afghanistan.

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