1999 Inductees

The late Ken Downing was a life-long resident of Tulsa with a national reputation as leader, composer, arranger and performer through a succession of assignments as teacher and musician, one of the most noteworthy the inspiration, in 1956, to establish the Tulsa Jazz in Concert Orchestra that took part in the Starlight Concert Series produced by the Tulsa Musicians Union and conducted by Downing for years.

The Orchestra performed at the Kansas City Jazz Festival in 1972 and Wichita Jazz Festival in 1976. His last benefit concert was presented in Claremore, in 1982, a year before his death at 55 of cancer.

Downing earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees – the latter in jazz composition – from the University of Tulsa, before studying in New York with the famed Lennie Tristano. He wrote and arranged for the U. S. Army Field Band while stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, then traveled and played professionally in 1953-56 with the bands of Art Mooney, Tommy Alexander and Charlie Barnett.

Downing wrote 35 original compositions and some 400 arrangements for a variety of groups and bands, including the University of North Texas One O’clock Lab Band, the Stan Kenton Orchestra, the Terry Gibbs Band, and various other college and university jazz bands in Texas, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma. 

He wrote for Marilyn Maye and Jana Jay, and as a professional musician, backed the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Hope, Liza Minelli, Roy Clark and Wayne Newton.

LINDA HOPKINS – Living Legend
Linda Hopkins was discovered at age 11 by gospel music great Mahalia Jackson. The youngest daughter of a Baptist preacher, Hopkins arranged for a church benefit concert appearance by Jackson, who had no idea she’d been booked by a youngster until she heard her sing the Jackson hit. “God Shall Wipe Your Tears Away” as a preliminary, Jackson was so moved by Linda’s rendition that she arranged for the girl to join Alberta hunter’s Southern Harp spiritual Singers, with whom Hopkins was associated for the next 11 years.

An earlier ultimately life-changing experience for Hopkins was seeing the legendary Bessie Smith perform in a night club. This inspired her to begin singing various Bessie Smith songs and, eventually, to conceive and write the musical, “Me and Bessie,” in which she starred in Los Angeles and, then in New York, where she won a Tony award (an earlier Tony was conferred for her role in Broadway’s Inner City.”) 

Native Oklahoman Maxine Weldon is a co-star with Linda Hopkins in their current touring show, “Wild Women Blues.”  They first met through singer Nancy Wilson when Hopkins was starring in:”Me and Bessie,” and first worked together in “Cotton Club Revue” in 1983 in Los Angeles and Chicago. 

From November 1995 through January 1997, Weldon toured with Hopkins in Europe with the Broadway show, “Black and Blue,” along with company drummer Washington Rucker, former Tulsan who was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 1998. 

Weldon was reared in Bakersfield, California, where she developed an early liking for country music but heeded her parents and took up nursing professionally. Love took her to Honolulu, where she abruptly decided to become a singer and began auditioning in clubs. She was eventually successful enough at this to give up nursing and perform full time. 

For five years she toured Japan – Malaya, Hong Kong, the Philippines and South Korea, where she married. She relocated to San Francisco in 1965 to raise her son, and resumed nursing until she was able to reestablish herself on the club circuit. She moved to Los Angeles in 1969, where her talents gained her increasing acceptance and career advancement, into television concerts with Bill Cosby, a Billie Holiday tribute concert series with Nina Simone, Carmen McRea, Morgana King and Esther Phillips.

D. C. MINNER – Blues
Blues singer/guitarist, D. C. Minner has come just about full circle, returning to Rentiesville in McIntosh County after 35 years of touring to run the Down Home Blues Club with a stage 15 feet from where he was born in 1935. Minner was born January 28, 1935. Prior to leaving Rentiesville for the military service, Minner picked up some guitar fundamentals from musicians who played at his grandmother’s juke joint. Grandmother raised him and ran the juke joint in the 40’s, 50’s and part of the 60’s, on the grounds of the Down Home Blues Club. When he returned he took up bass, and worked out of OKC with Larry Johnson and the New Breeds. It was at the age of 22 that he began to play professionally, soon picking up the bass guitar and playing with some of the biggest names in the business: O. V. Wright, Lowell Fulson, Chuck Berry, Freddie King, Chuck Berry, Eddie Floyd, Bo Diddley and many more. He moved to California in the late 60's. 

The Down Home Blues Club was established in 1988, after Minner and his wife, Selby, whom he met on the West Coast, and hired as bassist for the Blues on the Move band. They toured the United States with their band for 12 years.

Minner hosted his annual Labor Day weekend festival, “Dusk ‘til Dawn” hosting many well known blues artists and his wife Selby continues to host the festival since D.C.’s death on May 8, 2008.

Pianist and vocalist Pat Moore has been playing jazz in the Tulsa area for 31 years, but her involvement with sacred music started many years earlier – she became one of the musicians for the Paradise Baptist Church Senior Choir when she was nine years old and was the accompanist for the Chorus of Angels, under the direction of Elmer L. Davis, Sr., when she was 12. 

She served Paradise Baptist as minister of music for three years and is now minister of music for the Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

She began entertaining professionally in the Tulsa area in the late 1960s, when she began working with Earl “Bang Bang” Jackson at the Trade Winds West. She formed her own trio in 1970 to begin a seven-year engagement at the Mayo Hotel.

After living and working in the San Francisco area during the 1980s, Moore returned to Tulsa and resumed an extensive schedule of performances that included feature spots in the Tulsa Jazz Society’s “Key Men” concerts as the only female performer and at the PAC’s Tulsa Jazz Legends show.

Moore continued to play locally until her recent retirement. 

David T. Walker is a musician, artist and producer whose performance appearance, and concerts, studio assignments and recordings run literally to the thousands of credits in jazz and every other popular idiom -- rock ‘n’ roll, R & B, gospel and pop.

Born in Tulsa in 1941, Walker was raised in the Watts section of Los Angeles and taught himself to play the guitar; inspired by his father’s playing and the encouragement of a churchman whose guitar he’s borrow. He began playing professionally in 1957, and by the time he graduated from high school, was working up and down the West Coast.

He played early with the Kinsfolk band, later joined Hank Ballard and the Midnighters and toured the nation doing one-night stands, then played with Martha and the Vandellas and spent 2 ½ years performing under the Motown banner in Detroit.

Walker’s first record album, “The Sidewalk,” on Revue/MCA was issued in 1968 and carried three of his original compositions (it was reissued in 1997).replika óra There have been more than 28 solo albums since.

His credits include radio and television commercials, motion picture sound tracks and performances on over 2,500 albums with artists from around the world.