By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Accomplished blues singer and guitar player, Dr. Harold Aldridge and the legendary Dorothy Ellis, aka “Miss Blues” are special guests for the next edition of the History Through Music program themed, “Oklahoma Blues.” They will present an educational performance on the development of Blues music.
This fascinating program will take place on Thursday, Aug. 29 at the Oklahoma History Center at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive. It is located just East of the State Capitol on N.E. 23 St. in Oklahoma City. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the program will begin at 7 p.m.
History Through Music is a partnership between the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Born and raised in the small, all-black town of Taft, Oklahoma, Dr. Aldridge learned from the town’s older musicians how to play the guitar. He will perform and tell the history of the differing styles of Blues, including how regional sounds emerged.
A retired professor of psychology from Northeastern State University, in Tahlequah, Aldridge is a regular act at the Dusk till Dawn Blues Festival. The event takes place in Rentiesville, Oklahoma, Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.
Dorothy Ellis, born Dorothy Choncie Ellis on a Texas cotton plantation, began shouting the Blues in the 1940s. Ellis came to Oklahoma City, alone, at the age of thirteen.
In 1954, she sang with a band called the Rockin’ Aces, which featured Little Eddie Taylor. Ellis later attended Oscar Rose Junior College in Oklahoma City, and went on to earn a master’s degree at the University of Central Oklahoma.
A 2004 Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Ellis has performed at some of the historic venues of Oklahoma City’s Deep Deuce district.
International Blues Artist Taj Mahal calls Miss Blues “the Blues Babe of all Blues Babes.”
Miss Blues will share some of her story, and explain her Texas Shout style of Blues. She will also be appearing at the Dusk till Dawn Blues Festival.
“The event is a great opportunity to not only learn some history of the Blues as it developed in America and Oklahoma, but also to hear some very talented Blues music,” said Larry O’Dell, OHC, Director of Special Projects/Development.
“Dr. Aldridge will start with the beginnings of this music style and take it to its 20th century popularity,” said O-Dell. “Miss Blues, or Dorothy Ellis, will perform the “Texas Shout” Blues that she learned as a child in the early 1940s in north Texas.”
Through the humanities discipline of history, Aldridge and Ellis will perform the different Blues styles and lecture on their roots. They will each also explain regional differences and the migration of these styles into Oklahoma.
During the program scholars will discuss how the unique settlement of the Sooner state mixed different cultures and music, creating its own distinctive sounds and musicians.
Ellis and Aldridge will examine the influence that Oklahoma’s all-black towns and their Juke Joints had in the evolution of the regions music and talk about the roles that secular and gospel music played.
Before the concert, there will be a presentation about other notable blues musicians with ties to Oklahoma including Funny Papa Smith, Jimmy Rushing, Jay McShann, Jimmy Liggins, Joe Liggins, Lowell Fulson, Roy Milton, Ernie Fields, DC Minner, Elvin Bishop, and Jimmy Nolen.
Oklahoma Historical Society members can RSVP and receive free seats. Non-members may purchase an OHS family membership at half price, $25.00, or any of the other membership levels at regular price, and RSVP for up to two seats.
The family membership is a one-year membership that includes free admission for the member and family with a maximum of 12 family members per visit to any of the Oklahoma Historical Society’s 31 museums, military sites or historic homes along with other benefits.
This program is funded in part by the Oklahoma Humanities Council (OHC) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
For reservations, contact Nicole Harvey, [email protected] or call 405-522-5202.