2003 Inductees

MARILYN MAYE --  Jay McShann Lifetime Achievement Award
Wichita native Marilyn Maye began her singing in Des Moines at the age of 14 when she started singing with local bands. Within a year, she had her own show on radio station KRNT, becoming a versatile pro as she sang requests for listeners.

After graduating, she traveled to perform at lodges and clubs and a two-week engagement in Kansas City turned into years. Steve Allen saw her and invited her to present her rich, throaty voice on his late-night television show which led to an RCA recording contract – seven albums and 34 singles.

Maye's 75 performances on the “Tonight Show” outnumbered any other performer. She was regarded as his “super singer.” Doc Severinsen called her his “favorite girl singer,” while critic Rex Reed described her as “mesmerizing.” Her version of “Cabaret” climbed the charts well before other performers recorded the song. Her biggest hit, “Step to the Rear (and Let a Winner Lead the Way)” became Iowa Gov. Robert Ray’s campaign theme song.

The Houston Chronicle declared Marilyn Maye “a national treasure.” That declaration and Maye’s performance status in jazz and popular music history has been officially documented by none other than the Smithsonian Institute.  In 1985, the Smithsonian selected one of her recordings, “Too Late Now” (from RCA “The Lamp is Low” album) for the best interpretation of one of the 112 best American compositions, and as such was included in the Smithsonian collection of recordings, Miss May’s work stands alongside the recordings of such legendary greats as Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby, Miss Maye also received the coveted Jazz Heritage Award for 1987-1988.

Miss Maye has performed with the Tulsa Philharmonic, conducted by Peter Nero. The entertainment editor reviewed her performance and said, “No one puts a song over like Maye, who combines the sultry smokiness of a saloon singer with indefinable qualities of warmth, power and mystique that transcend mere talent and make legends.” Miss Maye has also starred in such Broadway nits as Hello Dolly (as Dolly Levi herself), and in the lead roles in Mame, Can Can, Follies and many others.

In 2001 Maye released a CD entitled “Rapport.” In 2002 she released another CD, “The Singing Side of Life,” as well as performed at several jazz concerts including The Quad Cities Jazz Festival, where she performed in 2003, and the serving Up Jazz at the Folly Theater in Kansas City.

In 2003, Maye was presented the Jazz Excellence Award from the Kansas City Jazz Ambassador.

JACOB FRED JAZZ ODYSSEY -- Legacy Tribute Award
Reinventing the trio setting with a rare communicative spirit that unveils the hidden secrets of an invisible fourth dimension, Brian Haas, Jason Smart, and Reed Mathis pull influences from nearly every genre of music. They are diverse as John Coltrane, and Jimi Hendrix, to Thelonious Monk and KRS-ONE. Together since 1994 and performing over 200 live appearances per year, JFJO is constantly expanding their horizons by collaborating with the likes of Les Claypool. Charlie Hunter, Karl Denson, DJ Logic, John Scofield, Critters Buggin’, The Slip, and the list goes on and on.  JFJO have integrated their improvisational music deeply into the jazz and festival scenes, breaking new ground each year. They have performed at The Gathering of the Vibes, Berkshire Mountain Music Festival, New Orleans Jazz Festival, High Sierra, South by Southwest, and so many others.

The innovative, crowd-pleasing, progressive jazz trio, JFJO was recently hailed as the No. 1 “new” jazz trio on the national music scene. “This band of 20-something was born out of a messianic devotion to the idea that jazz means improvisation. They thrive on risk, often creating spontaneous compositions on stage.”

TAJ MAHAL-- Living Legend Award
One of the most prominent figures in late 20th century blues, singer/multi-instrumentalist Taj Mahan played an enormous role in revitalizing and preserving traditional acoustic blues.

Not content to stay within the at realm, Mahal soon broadened his approach, taking a musicologist’s interest in a multitude of folk and roots music from around the world – reggae and other Caribbean folk, jazz, gospel, R&B, Zydeco, various West African styles, Latin , even Hawaiian.

The African-derived heritage of most of those forms allowed Mahal to explore his own ethnicity from a global perspective and to present the blues as part of a wider musical context.

Yet while he dabbled I many different genres, he never strayed too far from his laid-[back country blues foundation. Mahal influenced a multitude of young bluesmen such as Keb Mo, Guy Davis and electric bohemians Corey Harris and Alvin Youngblood Hart.

Hit songs include: “Farther on Down the Road,” “Give Your Woman What She Needs,” I’m Going to the River,” and “That’s How Strong My Love Is.”

Taj Mahal won Grammy Awards in 1997 and 2000, respectively, for Senior Blues and Shoutin’ in the Key with the Phantom Blues Band. Mr. Mahal has also been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

Born Henry St. Clair Fredericks in Harlem on May 17, 1942, Taj Mahal took his stage name as a teen. Taj grew up in a multi-ethnic community in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Taj immersed himself in a wide range of musical styles and expanded his musical horizons through extensive contact with musical elders who had been brought into the folk circuit in Cambridge and New York City.  In 1964, he moved to Los Angeles, and in 1968, he released his self-titled debut album. He has recorded exploring musical genres from Hawaii to India to Jamaica to Memphis.  Along the way his side projects have included scoring films, children’s music, acting and putting to music the work of Harlem Renaissance poet/writer Langston Hughes (Mulebone).
During the 2002 New Year’s Eve performance at Yoshi’s Jazz House in Oakland, California, Taj received the honorable United States Congressional Recognition Award for a lifetime of contributions to the World’s history of music.

Here’s what Keb Mo had to say about Taj Mahal:  “I finally did meet the man himself. I was about to go to the recording studio and watch him work. I saw a man so full of the energy of divine inspiration. A man connected to his ancestors, a man with no fear of being creative and going where his soul told him to go. I could go on and on about Taj  Mahal but I won’t. I’ll just stop right here. The music is all the story you’ll ever need to hear.”

Taj  Mahal and the Phantom Blue Band received a nomination for the W. C. Handy Blues Award in the category of Best Blues Band. The Awards were May 22 in Memphis.

Maxine Cissel Horner Spirit of Community Excellence Award
One of Oklahoma’s most distinguished First Ladies of Health, native Oklahoman and Native American, Carmelita Skeeter coordinates the care for one of the state’s principal providers of health care to American Indians in a state with the 3rd largest population of Native Americans. Ms. Skeeter has distinguished herself both locally and nationally with her understanding of a wide range of critical health care issues. The member of the Citizen Nation Potawatomi Tribe speaks out strongly in support of minority and Indian Health needs.

Ms. Skeeter began her career in health care more than 30 years ago, first as a volunteer at Neighbor for Neighbor and then at Project Get Together. She helped found the Indian Health Care Resource Center 27 years ago and has directed the agency for the past 14 years. During these 14 years, she has worked with the Indian Health Care Board of Directors to move the health center to a centrally located, modern clinical facility with adequate room for all of the health center’s services. Three years ago, Indian Health Care Resource Center relocated to its current location at 550 South Peoria.

In 1976, Carmelita Skeeter was one of four original employees who worked to establish a center dedicated to serving the health need of approximately 30,000 American Indians who live in Tulsa County. She began as the Resource Coordinator, and then became the Clinic Director, a position she held for eleven years, and in 1989, she became the Executive Director of the Indian Health Care Resource Center. Today, she continues to serve as the Executive Director. Ms. Skeeter and the Board of Directors are now working toward an expansion of the clinic due to the great need for health promotion and disease prevention – a Medical Wellness Center.

Ms. Skeeter has been recognized and honored with a number of awards, including “Outstanding Community Leadership of the Year,” presented by the Oklahoma Native American Business Development Center, 1998; an award for significant contributions in improving the health of American Indian and Alaska Natives presented by the National Indian Health Board, 1999; the Indian Health Care Resource Center received American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma, Tulsa Chapter “Business of the Year” award, 2002; Indian Health Care Resource Center was voted the number one Indian Clinic in Oklahoma for the second time, 2002; and the national Council of Urban Indian Health presented Ms. Skeeter with the “Outstanding Program of the Year” award, 2002.

Leslie Sheffield, Sr., jazz pianist, composer and arranger, was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, June 11, 1910. During his childhood there was always a piano or organ in the house.  His relatives were musicians and with music around him all the time, he decided to teach himself to playa out of his mother’s hymn book. Muskogee was home to many pianists and Leslie would sit on doorsteps and listen to them play.

Soon he had Gaston Sanders as a music teacher and he began his studies on the trombone, the n tried the sousaphone. Inspired, Leslie met Jesse Stone, pianist, organist and writer, who came to Muskogee as a music educator, and taught Leslie to read and write music.

Because of his education with Stone and his work with bandleader, Alphonso Trent, Leslie eventually took over the Alphonso Trent Band. Leslie Sheffield was one of Oklahoma’s jazz pioneers and went on to play the East Coast with such notables as Snub Mosley, O ran “Hot Lips” Page, Buster Smith, Walter Pages, Count Basie, Bennie Moten and a host of others.

He also fronted his own “Rhythmaires Band, featuring Charlie Christian, a young, brilliant world-class guitarist from Oklahoma City. When Christian left the band to play with the Benny Goodman Orchestra, he took with him many original tunes that Leslie Sheffield had written and performed with his own band. One tune in particular was “Flying Home.” Leslie stated in his declining years that two of his greatest moments were meeting and jamming with Gats Waller and Art Tatum.

SARA JORDAN POWELL -- Gospel Inductee
Sara Jordan Powell, a fourth generation member of the Church of God in Christ, Inc., serves as the International Executive Director of Fine Arts. She was appointed by the Reverend James Cleveland, founder of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, as the first Youth Director and served in this position for five years. 

Appointed by President Ronald Reagan, Powell served on the committee for “Year of the Bible.” She also served as Academic Advisor at Oral Roberts University.

Sara Jordan Powell has sung for world leaders and dignitaries, including Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Mother Teresa, and throughout the world, she has ministered in song and testimony to those in hospitals, convalescent homes, penal institutions, religious organizations, churches and schools. 

Educated in Houston, Texas, where she was a public high school teacher for ten years, Powell acquired her Master’s Degree in Christian Education from the University of St. Thomas. 

PAT KELLEY -- Jazz Inductee
Tulsan guitarist Pat Kelley, now residing in Los Angeles, has toured more than thirty countries, worked more than 2,000 sessions as a studio guitarist for records, television, and motion picture.

Some of those with whom Kelley has performed are: George Benson, Tom Scott, David Benoit, Dave Brubeck, John Pisano, Rich Braun, Jeff Lorber, Richard Elliot, Dave Koz, Al Jerreau, B. B. King, Ronnie Laws, Hubert Laws, Jose Feliciano, Eric Marienthal, Randy Crawford, Melissa Manchester, and Burt Bacharach. He played guitar for several years on the Merv Griffin, Pat Sajak, Joan Rivers, and Carol Burnett television shows and performed with symphony orchestras in San Francisco, San Diego, Houston, Atlanta, Tulsa, Denver, San Antonio and Toledo.

To more fully concentrate on pursuing a jazz guitar presence, Pat started the Artsong Music DC label in 2002 in an effort to release quality music with no restrictions. He also holds a full-time teaching position in the Studio/Jazz Guitar Department at the University of Southern California.

HOWARD McGHEE -- Jazz Inductee 
Born March 6, 1918, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Howard McGhee was raised in Detroit, Michigan. During 1945-49 Howard McGhee was one of the finest trumpeters in jazz, an exciting performer with a sound of his own who among the young bop players ranked at the top with Dizzy Gillespie and Fats Navarro. The "missing link" between Roy Eldridge and Fats Navarro, McGhee originally played clarinet and tenor, not taking up trumpet until he was 17. He worked in territory bands, was with Lionel Hampton in 1941 and then joined Andy Kirk (1941-42), being featured on "McGhee Special." McGhee participated in the fabled bop sessions at Minton's Playhouse and Monroe's Uptown House, modernizing his style away from Roy Eldridge and towards Dizzy Gillespie. He was with Charlie Barnet (1942-43), returned to Kirk (where he sat next to Fats Navarro in the trumpet section) and had brief stints with Georgie Auld and Count Basie before traveling to California with Coleman Hawkins in 1945; their concise recordings of swing-to-bop transitional music (including "Stuffy," "Rifftide" and "Hollywood Stampede") are classic. McGhee stayed in California into 1947, playing with Jazz at the Philharmonic, recording and gigging with Charlie Parker (including the ill-fated "Lover Man" date) and having an influence on young players out on the Coast. His Dial sessions were among the most exciting recordings of his career and back in New York he recorded for Savoy and had a historic meeting on record with Navarro (1948 on Blue Note).

However drugs began to adversely affect Howard McGhee's career. He traveled on a USO tour during the Korean War, recording in Guam. McGhee also had sessions for Bethlehem (1955-56) but was inactive during much of the 1950s. He recorded some strong dates for Felsted, Bethlehem, Contemporary and Black Lion during 1960-61 and a quartet outing for United Artists (1962) but was largely off records again until 1976. He had a final burst of activity during 1976-79 for Sonet, Steeple Chase, Jazzcraft, Zim and Storyville but by then Howard McGhee was largely forgotten and few knew about his link to Fats Navarro and Clifford Brown.