By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
On Thursday, June 16, at 6:30 p.m., the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) will host a special program that highlights the Oklahoma City’s blues tradition. The event will be held at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr. in Oklahoma City, across from the state Capitol. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m.
Shirley Nero, President of the OHS Black Heritage committee, will formally thank Rev. Dr. M. L. Jemison and the St. John Missionary Baptist Church for the donation of its Heritage House collection of archival documents and artifacts to the Oklahoma Historical Society.
The collection consists of the church’s estimated 5,000 archival heirlooms, which are a testimony of the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement.
In addition, OHS Executive Director Dr. Bob Blackburn will do an “Inside the Actors Studio” style interview with Miss Blues, Dorothy Ellis. They will discuss her jazz related experiences and her life-long career in music, spanning more than sixty years.
Ellis came to Oklahoma City from Texas at the age of thirteen. Her signature song style is recognized by her fans as the “Texas Shout”. She began singing the blues in the 1940’s and has performed at some of the historic venues of Oklahoma City’s Deep Deuce district.
Opening for blues icons such as Bo Diddley, she has performed with Richard “Groove” Holmes, Little Joe Blue, Drink Small and many others. Miss Blues is a staple performer at Rentiesville’s annual Dusk ‘til Dawn Blues Festival to be held this year on Labor Day Weekend.
Musician Walter Taylor III, of Taylor Made Jazz, will speak about the Oklahoma City Blues scene, spotlighting many artists who have lived and performed in Oklahoma.
Taylor started playing in Oklahoma City clubs at the age of 13. A leader of Oklahoma’s music scene, Walter is a vocalist, producer, drummer, and bandleader. He has worked extensively with the OHS on numerous music projects. He initiated an oral history project with the OHS featuring interviews with many generations of Oklahoma City musicians.
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.
The Juneteenth event is free and open to the public. 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.
For more information about the OHS, visit www.okhistory.org.