June 1, 2016
Contact: Larry O’Dell
Oklahoma Historical Society
Juneteenth Program to Focus on Oklahoma City Blues Scene
OKLAHOMA CITY — On Thursday, June 16, at 6:30 p.m., the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) will host a special program that highlights Oklahoma City’s blues tradition. OHS Executive Director Dr. Bob Blackburn will do an “Inside the Actors Studio” style interview with Miss Blues, Dorothy Ellis, about her interesting life and music. Musician Walter Taylor will give a presentation on the Oklahoma City Blues scene, highlighting many of the talented artists. In addition Shirley Nero, President of the OHS Black Heritage committee, will formally thank Rev. Dr. M. L. Jemison of the St. John Missionary Baptist Church for the donation of its collection.
Dorothy Ellis, also known as Miss Blues, began “shouting” the Blues in the 1940s. She came to Oklahoma City from Texas, alone, at the age of thirteen. She has sung at some of the historic venues of Oklahoma City’s Deep Deuce district. Miss Blues will share her story, as well as talk about her “Texas Shout” style of Blues. Miss Blues is a staple performer at Rentiesville’s annual Dusk ‘til Dawn Blues Festival.
Walter Taylor III of Taylor Made Jazz started playing in Oklahoma City clubs at the age of 13. A stalwart of Oklahoma’s music, Walter is a bandleader, producer, drummer, and vocalist. He has worked extensively with the OHS on many music projects. In particular Taylor initiated an oral history project, with the OHS to interview many generations of Oklahoma City musicians.
Rev. Jemison and the St. John Missionary Baptist Church donated the St. John Heritage House collection to the Oklahoma History Society. The collection consists of the church’s estimated 5,000 archival documents and artifacts, documenting the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement, to the Oklahoma Historical Society.
The event is free and open to the public, but donations will be accepted for the Shirley Ann Ballard Nero Endowment Fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. This endowment provides annual money for projects that relate to African American history and Oklahoma’s historically all-black towns.
The Oklahoma History Center is located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr. in Oklahoma City. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.