The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame inducted six new members Thursday night. KOTV's Paul Serrell and Kim Graham served as masters of ceremonies for the event.
It's one of the biggest events of the year at the Greenwood Cultural Center. Sponsors work hard to make things sparkle in celebration of Oklahoma's jazz roots. Guitarists David T. Walker and D.C. Minner were among the artists sharing excitement in being added to the Hall of Fame roster.
Maxine Weldon sings jazz and blues around the world. But she chose a country number for the induction ceremonies, a reflection of her Oklahoma roots. Weldon has born here and spent her early childhood in Boley. Though she grew up in California, Weldon believes Oklahoma's tradition generates a particular creative spark. "There are other states out there, but I think we have an edge when it comes to art. I hope I don't get letters about that. But I think we do," says Weldon.
"Living Legend" honoree, gospel, blues and jazz performer Linda Hopkins agrees, with Weldon about the Oklahoma edge when it comes to music. She believes that Oklahoma musicians helped write the history of jazz. "I'll tell you the two that are most talked about, that they speak of, are the musicians from Oklahoma and New Orleans, Louisiana," said Hopkins. Hopkins was excited to find old friends among some previous Hall of Fame inductees. "I've been fortunate that I worked with all these people," she said.
Both Weldon and Hopkins feel fortunate that their musical contributions are recognized alongside many music legends. But there's particular pride that the honor is bestowed on Greenwood Avenue, birthing ground for Oklahoma's jazz tradition. "All I'd like to say is that I'll continue to represent Oklahoma culture and stature all of my life. That's a promise," said Weldon. "I couldn't ask for anything better. I've always had something for Oklahoma and now I'm in Oklahoma for the rest of my life."
There's great jazz scheduled Friday and Saturday nights at the Juneteenth on Greenwood Heritage Festival. Earl Clark and Spectrum, Millenium Jazz Fest, Shirley Brown and Keb'Mo' are among the musicians who will perform.