Jan 16, 2015 - JAZZ DEPOT HOSTS GOSPEL EXTRAVAGANZA ON MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY
Classic gospel-quartet singing, choir performances, solo numbers, dramatizations and readings related to the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and even a style show are on the bill at Tulsa's Jazz Depot Monday. The event, called Let Freedom Ring, Let Freedom Sing, will be held in celebration of Martin Luther King Day.
“We're so excited that Jason [McIntosh, Jazz Hall of Fame CEO] has opened up the hall for us to have this,” says the well-known Tulsa performer Rebecca Marks-Jimerson, who's co-hosting with Dr. Allen L. Russell.
“Dr. Russell is the managing partner of the Union Hall Singers,” she explains, “a group composed of African-American gospel quartets. They all come together and work together on programs like this one.”
Most of the quartets scheduled to perform, she adds, are affiliated with the Union Hall Singers.
“Dr. Russell will be performing with his group, the Kings of Joy,” she notes. “The Kings of Joy and the Friendly Oklahoma Jubilees are two of the oldest African-American quartets in the state of Oklahoma. They are both about 65 years old, and I think there may be one or two original members left in those groups.
“The great thing about the Jubilees is that they now have an older gentleman playing harmonica – and he is awesome. So you're going to hear some of that old time quartet music that goes back to barbershop [harmonies], and even prior to that, because the African-American quartets in the slave quarters was how all of that came about.”
Also coming from the Union Hall singers are the Mighty Gospel Wonder Tones, a quartet Marks-Jimerson says “has been around for maybe 20 years.”
“We also have the GPW Boys – they represent the contemporary quartet group.” she adds. “And along with all that, we will have also the Voices of Unity, which is a multicultural Negro-spiritual choir, and the Tulsa Northside Brotherhood, a group of older singers from different church choirs. They've been around for quite a while and decided, `Hey, we want to come together and sing some numbers.'”
The musical part of the program is rounded out by Carolyn McFalls, whom Marks-Jimerson describes as “a soloist known for her gospel-blues singing.”
Complementing the singers are dramatic presentations revolving around Dr. King by actors Garrett Bland and Robert Lee, as well as a fashion show by Dominic Durant Productions. And while Marks-Jimerson plans to perform as well as emcee, she's not sure that she'll be doing any vocalizing herself.
“I may be,” she says. “But I know I'll be presenting a dramatization of one of Martin Luther King's speeches.”
The event is underwritten by the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, the Martin Luther King Commemoration Society, and the Oklahoma Eagle.
Let Freedom Ring, Let Freedom Sing is set to begin at 6:00 p.m. Monday, January 18, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. There is no admission charge, but donations will be accepted. All money raised on that day will benefit the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame's scholarship fund for area high school students.
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.