Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

Leave a comment

Black History Month Spotlight – Annie Abrams

bhm annieThis year during Black History Month, the Culture Vulture will look at 28 cultural leaders who have Little Rock connections and have been inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.  Though presented in alphabetical order, up first is a personal friend of the Culture Vulture – Annie Abrams, or as she is affectionately known, Miss Annie.

Annie Mable McDaniel Abrams is a retired educator by trade and civic activist by avocation.  She is included in this list because she is also a historian.  As a writer and preservationist, she has worked to document history and ensure historical properties and neighborhoods will long remain in Little Rock.

Born in Arkadelphia, she moved to Little Rock at age 13 to attend Dunbar Junior High School and High School.  She studied education at Dunbar Junior College and later taught in Marianna. In 1956, she returned to Little Rock to work for the Arkansas Teachers Association.  After her return to the capital city, she married Orville Abrams.  In addition to raising her four children, Miss Annie has helped raise countless others through her advice, support, love, and sometimes strong admonitions.  She also found time to return to school and receive a degree from Philander Smith College.

Among her many accomplishments are leading efforts to rename High Street for Martin Luther King, 14th Street for Daisy L. Gatson Bates and 20th Street for Charles Bussey.  Through her community activities, she had worked closely with both Bates and Bussey.  She was a friend to the Little Rock Nine (who were only a few years younger than she) and to their families. Perhaps, because she has been a personal friend of many Arkansas and national politicians over the past 60 years, it should come as no surprise that she and her husband were also acquainted with Governor Faubus.

Whether a leading political figure or a small child, Miss Annie isn’t afraid to give advice or to share her love.  Once an educator, always an educator, she loves to learn and teach. It is rare for her to miss a speech at the Clinton School or a Political Animals Club meeting.

In recognition of all her efforts she has been recognized with an honorary doctorate from Philander Smith College, the Brooks Hays Award, and an award award from the national Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.  In 2010, she was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

For more on Annie Abrams and other inductees into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, visit the permanent exhibit at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. That museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

1 Comment

Little Rock Look Back: Movie Stars Descend on Robinson Auditorium

Autograph seekers crowd around the actors at the Movie Ball (photo from Arkansas Gazette)

Autograph seekers crowd around the actors at the Movie Ball (photo from Arkansas Gazette)

As final preparations were being made for the opening of the Joseph Taylor Robinson Municipal Auditorium in early 1940, a glamorous evening took place in Robinson’s lower level convention hall on February 1.

In conjunction with a meeting of film executives and movie theatre owners sponsored by Robb and Rowley Theaters (which later became the United Artists theatre chain), several Hollywood actors were in Little Rock and headlined a Movie Ball. While in Little Rock, Maureen O’Hara, Phyllis Brooks, Arleen Whelan, Tim Holt and Gene Autry had also made a variety of public appearances.

Mr. Autrey had to miss the ball because he had to return to Hollywood early to attend to business matters. Actress Ilona Massey had also been scheduled to attend the events but was unable due to illness.

The quartet who did appear at the Movie Ball caused quite a scene. Upon their entrance, so many of the attendees crowded around for autographs that the evening’s grand march could not take place (a newspaper headline in the Democrat innocently used the word “orgy” to describe the crowd). After two attempts, Little Rock Mayor J. V. Satterfield (who was escorting Miss O’Hara) and the other members of the Little Rock host delegation led the Hollywood foursome to their reserved table. For quite a while that evening, the table was besieged by autograph seekers.

Mayor J V Satterfield escorting actress Maureen O'Hara at the Movie Ball (photo from Arkansas Democrat)

Mayor J V Satterfield escorting actress Maureen O’Hara at the Movie Ball (photo from Arkansas Democrat)

Though it is unknown as to whether he sought an autograph, photos from the evening showed a very satisfied Mayor Satterfield with Miss O’Hara on his arm. Satterfield family lore joked that Mrs. Satterfield (who had stayed home that night to tend to a sick son) was not a fan of Miss O’Hara’s films after that evening.

The Movie Ball showed Little Rock citizens the value of Robinson Auditorium even before it had been officially dedicated. The film industry meetings had taken place at the Albert Pike Hotel which did not feature a ballroom large enough to host the ball. Without the auditorium’s availability for the gala, organizers might not have chosen Little Rock for the meeting.

With the auditorium’s convention hall not attached to any hotel, it opened up the chance for Little Rock to host more events. This had been one of the key arguments for an auditorium since Mayor W. E. Lenon’s first proposal back in 1904. Having a glamorous event this early in the auditorium’s life validated that contention. After having endured the challenges to open the building, it was a nice lagniappe for the auditorium’s proponents who were present.

The actor Tim Holt would again be connected to Little Rock. In September 1951, he tried to obtain a divorce in Arkansas and stated that he had been a resident of the state for at least six weeks. He also had someone else testify to that fact. In October 1951, the divorce was granted. Later Mr. Holt was charged with perjury and fined $200 for falsely representing his length of residence in Arkansas. Judicial sanctions for his legal team, which included a State Senator, were eventually reviewed by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Leave a comment

Little Rock Look Back: The Copper Bowl

Copper Bowl

A Little Rock police officer tackles a NLR player in one of the Copper Bowls.

Today is Super Bowl Sunday, so it seems to be a good time to remember the five year series of football games in Little Rock known as the Copper Bowl.

From December 1959 through December 1963, the Little Rock Police Department played the North Little Rock Police Department in a series of football games.  The Copper Bowl games were fundraisers to help the LRPD provide food and presents for needy families during the Christmas season.

The agreement was that the teams would play for five years. The team with the most wins would permanently receive the Copper Bowl trophy.  The LRPD was outfitted with uniforms from Little Rock University and Louisiana State University (thanks to the efforts of Sgt. Harold Zook).  The games were played at Quigley Stadium.

Before the final game on December 1, 1963, the series was tied at 2-2.  The LRPD team won the game and permanently captured the trophy.  Over the five year period several thousand dollars were raised.

Leave a comment

Mozart & Tchaikovsky at Arkansas Symphony this weekend, featuring violin prodigy Randall Goosby

Randall Goosby

Randall Goosby

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO), Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents the fourth concert in the 2014-2015 Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series: Tchaikovsky and Mozart Festival. The concert takes place at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 1, 2015 at 3:00 p.m.

The ASO, under the baton of guest conductor Vladimir Verbitsky, is joined by young violin virtuoso Randall Goosby for Mozart’s Concerto for Violin in A Major. Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise from Eugene Onegin and his epic Symphony No. 4 are also presented on the program. The Masterworks Series is sponsored by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust. The concert sponsor is the National Endowment for the Arts.

Concert Conversations – All concert ticket holders are invited to a pre-concert lecture an hour before each Masterworks concert.  These talks feature insights from the Maestro and guest artists, and feature musical examples to enrich the concert experience.

Tickets are $19, $35, $49, and $58; active duty military and student tickets are $10 are can be purchased online at; at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center box office beginning 90 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100. All Arkansas students grades K-12 are admitted to Sunday’s matinee free of charge with the purchase of an adult ticket using the Entergy Kids’ Ticket, downloadable at the ASO website.

Randall Goosby, violin
Vladimir Verbitsky, guest conductor

TCHAIKOVSKY: Polonaise from Eugene Onegin
MOZART: Concerto for Violin No. 5 in A Major, K. 219
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36


Eugene Onegin is Tchaikovsky’s most popular opera, and the Polonaise is heard during a ballroom scene in Act Three.

Mozart composed the last four of his five violin concertos in December of 1775. With lyrical intensity bordering on the operatic, a slow and heartfelt true Adagio, and a firey, virtuosic rondo in the style of a minuet as a finale, Violin Concerto No. 5  is the most accomplished of its brethren.

Symphony No. 4 was composed around the same time period as Tchaikovsky’s popular opera, Eugene Onegin. Speaking of the harsh opening brass fanfare (which recurs throughout the work), the composer writes, “This is Fate, the power which hinders one in the pursuit of happiness from gaining the goal, whose jealousy provides that peace and comfort do not prevail, that the sky is not free from clouds – a might that swings, like the sword of Damocles, constantly over the head, that poisons continually the soul. This might is overpowering and invincible. There is nothing to do but submit and vainly to complain.”

Leave a comment

Little Rock Look Back: Congressman David D. Terry

david_terry_fOn January 31, 1881, future U.S. Congressman David Dickson Terry was born in Little Rock.  He was the son of William Leake Terry, who would serve in Congress from 1891 until 1901.  At the time David was born, his father was Little Rock City Attorney.  His mother was Mollie C. Dickson Terry. His parents also had two other sons, and after his mother’s death and his father’s remarriage, David had a half-sister.  He attended school in Virginia, and studied law in Little Rock and Chicago.

In 1910, he married Adolphine Fletcher, daughter of a former Little Rock mayor.  They had four children: David, Sarah, William and Mary. They later adopted a fifth child, Joseph.  The family lived in the Albert Pike Mansion, now known today as the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House.

In 1918, at the age of 37, David enlisted for service in World War I.  During the war, he would remain stateside.  Due to some family health issues, after the war he split his time between Little Rock and Massachusetts.  By the late 1920s, he had returned to Little Rock pretty much full time.

Continuing with his family’s commitment to public service, he served as president of the Little Rock Boys Club beginning in 1928. He oversaw a fundraising drive which raised $150,000 to replace a building destroyed by fire in 1930.  From 1929 until 1933, he served on the Little Rock School Board.

In 1933, David began service in the Arkansas House of Representatives.  The next year, he was elected to Congress to fill a vacancy in a hotly-contested election.  After the primary, he had barely made it into a runoff with Brooks Hays. But he ended up defeating Hays by 625 votes. Hays and his supporters protested due to election irregularities in Yell County, but David Terry was declared the winner.

Though he often was fiscally very conservative, he was also a strong advocate for the New Deal. His first bill in congress was to provide relief for financially strapped Arkansas schools.  In 1942, he decided to run for the Senate, but lost to John L. McClellan.  He ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 1944.  The winner that year, Ben Laney, appointed David Terry to lead the Flood Control, Water and Soil Conservation office. He held this position until 1953.

In later years, he kept a lower profile, even as his wife continued to raise her profile.  Arguably more people in Little Rock today are familiar with Adolphine Fletcher Terry and her efforts to reopen the Little Rock public schools than with the Congressman.

He died on October 6, 1963 and is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery.

The Terry Lock and Dam and the Little Rock School District’s Terry Elementary are both named for the former Congressman.

Leave a comment

Little Rock Look Back: FDR

Gov. & Mrs. Roosevelt with Sen. Robinson en route to FDR taking oath as president.

Gov. & Mrs. Roosevelt with Sen. Robinson en route to FDR taking oath as president.

On January 30, 1882, future U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born.  In 1936, he visited Little Rock as part of a statewide tour in conjunction with Arkansas’ Centennial celebration.  While in the state he spent time outside of Hot Springs at Couchwood, the vacation home of Arkansas Power & Light founder Harvey Couch, who was the chair of the Centennial activities.

In honor of President Roosevelt’s visit, a portion of Highway 365 in Little Rock was designated Roosevelt Road. He followed part of that road while in the Capital City before making a public appearance.

President Roosevelt’s address on June 10, recounted Arkansas’ territorial and statehood history. At the end he paid tribute to his Senator Joseph Taylor Robinson.  The Senator was a friend and confidant who often led the charge for FDR programs in congress.  Indeed, it would be New Deal programs which would allow for the construction of a municipal auditorium in Little Rock, which would be named in memory of Sen. Robinson after his death in the summer of 1937.  (As the Democratic leader of the Senate, it had been Robinson who accompanied FDR and Eleanor in the motorcade to the 1933 Presidential inauguration ceremony.)

FDR’s visit to Arkansas had political implications as well.  The late Senator Huey Long of neighboring Louisiana had been arguably FDR’s biggest adversary in Washington.  Long was very popular in rural areas of Arkansas and had campaigned for Hattie Caraway when she ran for re-election to the Senate, to the dismay of many of Arkansas’ Democratic establishment.  Harvey Couch had worked to bring about a detente between FDR and Long prior to the latter’s assassination in 1935.  But between a lingering mistrust of FDR by Long supporters and discontent from some sectors based on New Deal programs, it was important for FDR to shore up Democratic support in Arkansas.  At the time the state had nine electoral votes.

FDR would return to Central Arkansas in 1943 to review troops at the military facility named for Sen. Robinson.  That would be his final visit to Arkansas before his death in April 1945.

Leave a comment

Jazz on Main returns to South on Main tonight with Peter Martin & Romero Lubambo: New Orleans Meets Rio

peter_martin_cropped_2.jpg.190x140_q60_cropJoin the Oxford American magazine for the continuation of their 2014-2015 jazz series at South on Main featuring Peter Martin & Romero Lubambo! This special evening will include a live multi-camera video shoot of the showby AETN – Arkansas Educational Television Network.

The OA jazz series is sponsored by the University of Central Arkansas College of Fine Arts and Communication. Doors open at 6:00 PM with dinner and drinks available at that time. The concert begins at 8:00 PM.

Single tickets went on sale September 1 at $30 for reserved seats at tables and $20 for general admission. Purchasing a reserved seat assigns you to a specific guaranteed seat at a table. However, seating at tables is family-style, and unless you purchase the entire table, you will be seated with other patrons. General admission tickets are good for barstools and standing room, available on a first-come first-served basis.For ticketing questions, please contact Metrotix at (800) 293-5949.

Raised by parents who are both classical musicians, Peter Martin began studying music at the age of three. After graduating from high school, Martin received the Presidential Scholar in the Arts Award from President Reagan. He then attended The Juilliard School in New York on scholarship, studying piano with Martin Canin, until moving to New Orleans in 1990.

While in New Orleans, Martin honed his skills working with key musicians such as Nicholas Payton, Germaine Bazzle, Brian Blade, and Victor Goines. He also embarked on an active solo career and toured and recorded with artists such as Betty Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Chris Botti, Joshua Redman, Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Martin has performed with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Sydney Symphony, as well as numerous other orchestras around the world. He’s also played at The White House twice.

Martin performed on and arranged Dianne Reeves’ Grammy winning release A Little Moonlight, as well as co-produced her 2004 Blue Note CD Chrismas Time Is Here. He appeared in George Clooney’s 2005 film Good Night, and Good Luck and was featured on the movie’s Grammy-winning soundtrack. Wynton Marsalis called Martin, “An unbelievable musician with a unique kind of charisma. Not just the technical competence, but a deep kind of penetrating insight into music.”

In 1985, Romero Lubambo came to the United States, and brought with him a new sound in Brazilian jazz guitar. His guitar playing unites the styles and rhythms of his native Brazilian musical heritage with his fluency in the American jazz tradition, forming a distinctive new sound. From the cool, sophisticated rhythms of his native Brazil to hard bop, Lubambo is a guitarist who’s comfortable in any musical setting. He is an uncommonly gifted soloist and musical improviser with a steady stream of unpredictably creative musical thoughts and the virtuosity to deliver them ever so tastefully.

Lubambo has performed and recorded with many outstanding artists, including Dianne Reeves, Michael Brecker, Yo-Yo Ma, Kathleen Battle, Diana Krall, Wynton Marsalis, and Paquito D’Rivera among many others.

“Guitarist Romero Lubambo may be the best practitioner of his craft in the world today… [his] facility, creativity and energy are in a class all their own.”—JAZZIZ Magazine   


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,343 other followers