Dec 24, 2013 - Darell Christopher Presents
Although he’s well known around the Tulsa area as a singer and musical-theater performer, Darell Christopher believes that there may be a few local music fans who only know him as the host of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame’s Sunday shows at the Jazz Depot.
“I don’t know what it is, the Guthrie Green, or just this whole call to downtown, but we’re seeing quite a lot of new people,” he says.
Christopher thinks this influx of fresh audience members may even have something to do with the Center of the Universe, that acoustically mysterious outdoor area lying directly northwest of the Jazz Depot.
“It’s amazing how many people come downtown just to see that and then say, `Wow, what’s going there?’” he explains. “So they go in, and they’re just blown away by the amazing amount of talent Tulsa has right there in the Jazz Hall. It’s definitely something that’s taking off.”
Christopher has been doing his part in promoting the Oklahoma Jazz Hall and helping grow for some time now, but his commitment accelerated in June, when he began hosting each of the weekly concerts.
“I came back from Europe in June, and before I left, I’d talked with [Jazz Hall CEO] Jason McIntosh about ways I could be involved,” he remembers. “The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is one of Oklahoma’s jewels, and I love being a part of the magic. So when I got back to the states, about the first of June, Jason called and said, `Hey, come on down and let’s make it happen.’
“I love music, I love being on stage, and I enjoy being involved with all these incredible musicians. I’m getting a big kick out of it, that’s for sure.”
A graduate of Holland Hall and the University of Tulsa, Christopher left his hometown for Europe in the early 1990s. While living in Germany, he began teaching gospel music, singing at weddings, and then, gradually, adding blues, jazz, and R&B to his repertoire. He ended up staying overseas for seven years, fronting a band that ultimately became the Darell Christopher Blues Band. That group toured and recorded, making the German Top 10 with a single called “Jealous Man.” Late in the’90s, however, he returned to Tulsa to take care of his mother. Currently, in addition to performing, he’s a proprietor of the Kennedy Mansion Bed & Breakfast, a historic building located on a hill northwest of downtown Tulsa - about a mile from the Jazz Depot.
Christopher got away from his innkeeper duties for a little while this summer, when his European jaunt not only reunited him with several of his former bandmates, but also gave him the opportunity to play some more music jobs.
“It was great, and of course my German and definitely my French are very rusty,” he says with a laugh. “From the beginning, I told them I was there to teach them English.”
Now that he’s back home, he plans to present a Sunday show that, befitting the season, offers what he terms some “auld lang syne moments” (the Scottish term translates as “the good old times’ or “days gone by”).
“We’re going to honor some of the old lyrics and the old songs from years ago, as we look at the end of the year, and look forward to the new year,” he notes, “and we’re going to give honor to some of the folks we lost this past year - [Tulsa jazz pianist] Gayle Williamson for example. We lost a great guy there; I really enjoyed singing with him over the years.”
Christopher says Sunday’s band will include keyboardist Aaron Henderson, guitarist Mark Furnas, and drummer Spike Gore.
“We’re going to do Billie Holiday’s `God Bless the Child,’ and they have a bossa nova they’ll do that’s really festive,” says Christopher. “I love Keb’ Mo’ - I can’t get the blues out of my system, so we’ll do ‘More Than One Way Home.’ And `What A Wonderful World.’ I just love Fats Waller, too, so we may do a couple of his tunes,
We’ll just mix it up, and see how the spirit hits us on a couple of others. I know we’ll all have a lot of fun.”
Darell Christopher’s Auld Lang Syne is set to begin at 5p.m. Sunday, December 29, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, from www.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.
The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2013-14 Winter Concert Series.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.
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