Jazz key element of Juneteenth celebration

Stackhouse & Pierce
Philip Stackhouse, left, and Patrick Pierce rock
out with the Rev. Dr. Ronald V. Myers and the
Juneteenth Jazz Praise Ensemble at the Juneteenth
Jazz and Arts Festival early Friday afternoon.
Staff photo by Liberty Walker

June 10, 2011
By Liberty Walker
Muskogee Phoenix News

Jeff Kos said the Oklahoma Jazz Music Hall of Fame sponsors Juneteenth and tries to attend Muskogee's Juneteenth events.

"Muskogee is one of the cradles of jazz music in Oklahoma," Kos said. "We had to come."

The sound of jazz music could be heard several blocks away Friday as the third annual Juneteenth Jazz and Arts Festival heated up at Smokehouse Bob's Bar-B-Que.

The Rev. Dr. Ronald V. Myers was there to play piano and trumpet with the Juneteenth Jazz Praise Ensemble.

"It's Dr. Myers' mission to raise awareness," said Kos, member of the board of directors for the Oklahoma Jazz Music Hall of Fame.

Juneteenth was born after General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, and read an order, giving slaves freedom two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.

Myers also came for the musicians.

"The purpose of the concert series is to work with leaders in the community during the month of June to support the legacy of musicians," Myers said. "That's why it's an honor for me to come."

Muskogee was home to one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, Jay McShann, who influenced the music in Kansas City, Myers said. Myers wants to make sure children remember McShann.

"This is a celebration of Muskogee's jazz legacy," Myers said.

Myers lives in Mississippi, but he isn't a stranger to Muskogee.

"My mother was born in Okmulgee," Myers said. "I spent my summers there. She used to take me to Muskogee to shop."

Myers also has been coming to Muskogee for the Juneteenth events since they started.

"My roots make me feel like I'm home, celebrating my ancestral home while doing this concert series," Myers said.

Myers wasn't the only person visiting Muskogee for the celebration.

Kos said he came to the festival to salute Myers and have some barbecue.

"We have a long record of doing Juneteenth," Kos said. "We haven't done Muskogee in a while, so it's about time.

Myers said the music isn't the only thing people enjoy when they come out to Juneteenth events.

"You're enjoying the jazz legacy, the culture," Myers said. "You're enjoying the barbecue legacy."

An art exhibit by Jason Terrell, a local artist, was available for viewing during the Jazz and Arts Festival.

"This is my second year putting up a display for the festival," said. "Since I'm retired, I'll probably start painting more. I just do the art for self-fulfillment. When I get stressed, I go draw or paint."

Reach Liberty Walker at (918) 684-2920 or walkerls@nsuok.edu.

If you go

WHAT: Juneteenth Celebration.

WHERE: Elliot Park, on Altamont Street, north of Sadler Arts Academy.

WHEN: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. June 19.

ADMISSION: Free. INFORMATION: Wilma Newton, (918) 781-9248.


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