Scenes from the Clinton Presidential Center Dedication on Nov. 18, 2004

Fifteen years ago, I was on the top level of the press riser during the Clinton Presidential Center dedication. I was the northernmost person on the riser through most of the ceremony. The only people who received more wind or rain than I were the sharpshooters on the rooftop.

Here are some of the photos I took that morning.

Early morning on the Library Site

Dawn is breaking, and a break in the rain on November 18, 2004. Hopes were improving.

Andrew DeMillo (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) and Lance Turner (Arkansas Business) in the print media rows of the press riser. DeMillo is now with Associated Press.

Mayor Jim Dailey prepares to be interviewed by Candy Crowley on CNN.

Crowds gathering.

As the rains started, staffers sought coverage.

The Philander Smith College Choir performed.

The Lyon College Drum and Pipe Band performed.

The Color Guard preparing to enter the ceremony.

The First Ladies entering the ceremony. Barbara Bush (center of the photo) looks like she is having fun!

The Presidents entering the ceremony without umbrellas.

President Jimmy Carter addresses the crowd.

President George H W Bush addresses the audience.

President George W. Bush addresses the gathering.

First Lady Hillary Clinton delivering her remarks (and getting even wetter due to an off center umbrella placement).

President Bill Clinton closing out the ceremony with his comments.

Opera in the Rock pays tribute to memory of Jessye Norman today

Opera In The Rock’s popular concert series “Divas in the Rock” will present a Jessye Norman Memorial Recital on Sunday, November 17th, at 4:00 pm in the sanctuary of Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church, 4823 Woodlawn Dr., Little Rock, 72205.

Norman was a dramatic soprano, singing a broad range of repertoire across opera, concert and recital stages. She was a towering figure in the world of opera with a cavernous, rich voice who also performed in Little Rock in 2003 at Pulaski Heights UMC as a benefit concert for Philander Smith College.

This concert event will feature music from her repertoire including traditional African-American spirituals such as “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” and “Amazing Grace” alongside art song and opera arias from her signature roles in operas such as Bizet’s Carmen and Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah. Featured local performers include LaSheena Gordon, Shannon Rookey, Christine Donahue, Deidra Jones, Sarah Stankiewicz-Dailey, Victoria Mantooth and Kate Sain among others accompanied by singer-songwriter John Willis.

Free Admission with a $10 suggested donation at the door. All proceeds benefit Opera In The Rock’s mission to produce professional opera emphasizing collaboration and diversity. No advance ticket purchase required.

15 Years Ago, Little Rock gave Aretha Franklin R-E-S-P-E-C-T in her concert with ASO

On November 16, 2004, the rafters of Robinson Center Music Hall were shaken by the vocal prowess of Aretha Franklin.

She shared the Robinson stage with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  The ASO brought Miss Franklin to town as part of the festivities surrounding the opening of the presidential library.  Long a favorite of the Clintons, Miss Franklin sang at his 1993 inaugural festivities the night before he took the oath of office.

Resplendent in a series of white dresses, Miss Franklin was in top form feeding off the love from the audience.  While backstage she may have been dealing with back and knee issues (which the Culture Vulture saw first hand), when she stepped on to the stage she was giving her all as she rolled through hit after hit from her starry career.  She sang, she played the piano, she entertained!

It was a sold out house and her voice and energy reached the last row of the balcony.

Prior to her appearance, the ASO played a few selections including variations on “Hail to the Chief” and “America.”

Earlier in the day, I had the privilege of picking up several copies of Bill Clinton’s autobiography for her to get signed by him.  I delivered them to her as she was resting between rehearsals. She was preparing for an interview with Craig O’Neill, and I hated disturbing her. But I wanted to be sure she got the books.  She was gracious and very appreciative.

2 PET SEMETARYs for the price of 1 tonight at CALS Ron Robinson Theater

Pet Sematary double featureTonight (November 16), the Stephen King Rules! Book Club and the Bookstore at Library Square present a special double feature screening of the 1989 and 2019 adaptations of Pet Sematary (R). Enjoy both films for the price of one — only $5!

The road in front of Dr. Louis Creed’s rural Maine home frequently claims the lives of neighborhood pets. Louis has recently moved from Chicago to Ludlow with his wife Rachel, their children and pet cat. Near their house, local children have created a cemetery for the dogs and cats killed by the steady stream of transports on the busy highway. Deeper in the woods lies another graveyard, an ancient Indian burial ground whose sinister properties Louis discovers when the family cat is killed.

The 1989 version stars Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, and Fred Gwynne while 2019’s version has Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz and John Lithgow.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Pet Sematary (1989, R) starts at 5:30 p.m. Pet Sematary (2019, R) starts at 7:30 p.m. Beer, wine, and concessions will be served!