OKPOP Museum Receives Tulsa Musician's Memorabilia

Monday, March 4th 2013, 4:50 pm
By: Dee Duren

The Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture announced that they have received items from the family of Tulsa musician Ernie Fields Sr. The late musician's band played a mixture of jazz, swing and blues and was the first African-American band to perform at the Cain's Ballroom.

Fields Sr. toured nationwide and recorded albums in New York and Los Angeles. He began his musical career in 1920s Tulsa and was a regular on the "Chittlin' Circuit," a series of venues in the south marketed to African-Americans, according to a news release.

He had a national hit in 1959 with a rocking arrangement of Glenn Miller's "In The Mood." Fields Sr. was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 1989. He died May 11, 1997.

His children donated the artifacts, recordings, photos, posters and other documents. Son Ernie Fields Jr. has carried on his father's legacy as the music contractor for American Idol and several other television shows.

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He's also played with artists like Lyle Lovett, Blake Shelton, B.B. King, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Fields Jr. graduated from Booker T. Washington in Tulsa.

"It's important to me and my sister that the state of Oklahoma honors my father's legacy at the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture," Fields Jr. said.

"The Ernie Fields Orchestra performed in all of the states, Canada, Mexico and Cuba. But, by choice, Oklahoma remained home because of his committed connection and devotion to his family."

Carmen Fields, the musician's daughter, is a journalist in the Boston area.

The OKPOP Museum will be located in the Brady Arts District with the approval of a $42.5 million bond issue.