A Night of Trap Jazz and Slam Poetry at the Clinton Presidential Center

Join the Clinton Presidential Center for a performance by Philli Moo, Qnote, and the Trap Jazz Giants. The program will begin at 6pm tonight (February 16).

Trap Jazz is a new genre of music birthed out of the original art forms of contemporary and Jazz standards with a baseline and core of traditional Hip-Hop, created by Phillip “Philli Moo” Mouton and Quincy “Qnote” Watson.

The program will also feature an appearance by Crystal C. Mercer, and will open with the Writeous Poets, a group of Little Rock teens who perform slam poetry. The Writeous Poets were established in 2002 under the sponsorship and guidance of Leron and Stacey McAdoo. Mrs. McAdoo was named the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year and is a teacher at Little Rock Central High School.

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The Oxford American Jazz Series presents Sarah Elizabeth Charles & SCOPE tonight

Sarah Elizabeth Charles & SCOPE [Jazz Series]The Oxford American welcomes Sarah Elizabeth Charles & SCOPE to Little Rock! This is the second show in their 2018-19 Jazz Series. Doors open at 6:00 PM at South on Main, with dinner and drinks available for purchase at that time. The series is made possible in part by presenting sponsor UCA College of Fine Arts & Communication.

Additional season partners include Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Chris & Jo Harkins, J. Mark & Christy Davis, EVO Business Environments, Downtown Little Rock Partnership, Stacy Hamilton of Pulaski Heights Realty, Margaret Ferguson Pope, Arkansas Arts Council, Department of Arkansas Heritage, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Capital Hotel, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Rosen Music Company, and Steinway Piano Gallery of Little Rock.

Tickets are $35 (General Admission), $42 (Reserved), and $44 (Premium Reserved). Please take a look at this very important ticketing and seating information before purchasing your tickets (view reserved seating chart). Full season ticket pricing and options are also available in a consolidated format, here.


Sarah Elizabeth Charles is a rising vocalist/composer based in New York City. She has worked and studied with artists such as George Cables, Geri Allen, Nicholas Payton, Sheila Jordan, Jimmy Owens, and Carmen Lundy and released her debut record, Red in September of 2012 with her band SCOPE. As the active vocalist in a number of bands (including SCOPE, AJOYO, Manner Effect, Transient Beings, Enoch Smith Jr., and Benjamin Rando), Charles has performed at many venues throughout her career. These have included The White House, Carnegie Hall, the first annual Culture Summit in Abu Dhabi, The Kennedy Center, the Bern International Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival, the Sicca Jazz Festival in Tunisia, the Blue Note in New York City, Gillette Stadium as a National Anthem singer for the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival, the Burlington Jazz Festival, the Apollo Music Café, Le Poisson Rouge, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, the Rose Theatre with Jazz at Lincoln Center, and many more.

In addition to her performances, Charles is also an active educator. She works as a teaching artist with Carnegie Hall’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Lullaby, and Future Music Project Youth workshops, has a private lessons studio in New York City, and is developing an early childhood music education program with Rise2Shine, a non-profit organization based in Fond Parisien, Haiti.

Charles’s musical output has been described as a “genre of one” (DownBeat Magazine), “soulfully articulate,” (New York Times) and “an unmatched sound” (Jay Z’s Life+Times). Her critically acclaimed sophomore project, Inner Dialogue, released in 2015 on Truth Revolution Records, features her band along with co-producer/special guest Christian Scott. Her third album, Free of Form, was released in the fall of 2017 on Ropeadope/Stretch Music, and featured SCOPE as well as Scott as co-producer and special guest. One can only look to the future for more unique and boundary-pushing music from this one-of-a-kind artist.

A Celebration of Art Porter Sr. tonight at the Ron Robinson Theater

Arthur Lee (Art) Porter Sr. was a pianist, composer, conductor, and music teacher. His musical interest spanned from jazz to classical and spirituals.

Tonight at the CALS Ron Robinson Theatre, Arkansas Sounds is hosting a special presentation of rare video and audio clips and photographs, as well as a panel discussion celebrating the continued legacy and eighty-fifth birthday of Arkansas pianist, composer, conductor, and music teacher Art Porter Sr. This event is co-sponsored by AETN.

Admission is free, but reservations are suggested. They can be made here.

Born on February 8, 1934 in Little Rock, he began his music education at home. He played in church at age eight; played his first recital at twelve; and, by fourteen, hosted a half-hour classical music radio program on KLRA-AM. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Arkansas AM&N College (now UAPB) in May 1954.

He began his teaching career at Mississippi Valley State University in 1954.  When he was drafted into the Army, his musical talents were responsible for him being assigned as a chaplain’s assistant in New York.  In the late 1950s he returned to Little Rock and taught at Horace Mann High School, Parkview High School and Philander Smith College.

He also started playing piano jazz in the evenings. This led to the creation of the Art Porter Trio, which became THE music group for events.  Many musicians who came to Arkansas to perform in Little Rock or Hot Springs would often stop by and join in with Porter as he played.  From 1971 to 1981 he hosted The Minor Key musical showcase on AETN.  His Porterhouse Cuts program was shown in 13 states.

Often encouraged to tour, he instead chose to stay based in Arkansas.  He did, from time time, perform at jazz or music festivals.   He also performed classical piano with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, founded the Art Porter Singers, and created a music group featuring his four oldest children.  Though Porter received many honors and awards, he found particular satisfaction in the “Art Porter Bill” enacted by the state legislature, which allowed minors to perform in clubs while under adult supervision. Porter’s children thus were able to perform with him throughout the state. Governor Bill Clinton, at the time a huge fan and friend of Porter, often joined Porter’s group on his saxophone.

In January 1993, Porter and his son Art Porter, Jr., performed at festivities in Washington DC for the Presidential Inauguration of his friend Bill Clinton.  In July 1993, he died of lung cancer.  Today his legacy lives on in the Art Porter Music Education Fund as well as in the lives of the many musicians and fans he touched.  He was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994.

LR Culture Vulture turns 7

The Little Rock Culture Vulture debuted on Saturday, October 1, 2011, to kick off Arts & Humanities Month.

The first feature was on the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, which was kicking off its 2011-2012 season that evening.  The program consisted of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90, Rossini’s, Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers, Puccini’s Chrysanthemums and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.  In addition to the orchestra musicians, there was an organ on stage for this concert.

Since then, there have been 10,107 persons/places/things “tagged” in the blog.  This is the 3,773rd entry. (The symmetry to the number is purely coincidental–or is it?)  It has been viewed over 288,600 times, and over 400 readers have made comments.  It is apparently also a reference on Wikipedia.

The most popular pieces have been about Little Rock history and about people in Little Rock.

LR Women Making History – Betty Fowler

Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation

The word “Entertainer” seemed to have been invented for Betty Fowler.

Born in Wynne, her love for music began at age 9, when she started taking piano lessons. Betty began her illustrious career at age 18 after winning a talent contest, which gave her the push she needed to pursue her life’s passion. Betty graduated from Little Rock Jr. College in 1944. She spent most of her life in Little Rock as a popular musician and television entertainer.

Betty began her musical career on a statewide radio show. She moved on to become a television performer in the early 1950’s in Little Rock with what is now known as Channel 7. She was best known for her children’s TV show, “Betty’s Little Rascals”, which began in 1955.

She went on to co-host the “Little Rock Today Show” on Channel 4 with Bud Campbell, where she did live commercials, played the piano and interviewed celebrities who came to town, such as Liberace, Sammy Davis Jr., Bob Hope, Red Buttons and Robert Goulet.

Through the years, Betty maintained a vigorous schedule with her band, “The Betty Fowler Four”, which produced a record album of her music. She was also musical director for The Miss Arkansas Pageant (1960-84), Musical Director for Broadway musicals produced by the Community Theater, Musical Director for the Farkleberry Follies and The Gridiron.

For many years, Betty taught piano and had a recording studio in her home, where she gave voice coaching lessons and made accompany tapes for many aspiring performers.  Betty Fowler will forever be remembered and treasured for her lifetime love and devotion to the world of music, both in performing and in the teaching of music to others.

Black History Month – Count Basie and Robinson Center

count-basieWilliam James “Count” Basie performed at Robinson Center throughout his career.  His first appearance was in the early days of the building, when it was known as Robinson Memorial Auditorium.  His last appearance was in the early 1980s.

Born in New Jersey, he grew up playing the piano.  He arrived in Harlem in the early 1920s and took part in the rise of jazz during the 1920s.  He split the decade between touring and playing in a variety of Harlem night spots.  In 1929, he relocated to Kansas City and became the pianist for Bennie Moten.  It was during this time that he started arranging for bands as well.  By 1936, Basie had his own band – Count Basie and His Barons of Rhythm.  He also started introducing blues music into his sets.

In 1937, he moved back to New York.  It would be his base throughout the 1940s. Though he also started appearing in films starting in 1942.  He also started incorporating bebop into his music.  After World War II, he disbanded his Big Band and reformed with an orchestra.  He would lead this group until the early 1980s.

While an outstanding musician, he was also notable for his role as a composer, arranger, and bandleader. He was constantly experimenting.  When two of his tenor saxophonists were complaining, he split them and placed them on opposites of the band creating dueling tenor saxes. He also started incorporating flutes into his orchestra, introducing them into more popular music.

As a musical personality, he joined the ranks of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong in helping to break the color barrier. He was featured in movies and TV at time that segregation was still well in practice.

Over his career, Count Basie received nine Grammy awards and has four recordings in the Grammy Hall of Fame.  He was a 1981 Kennedy Center Honors recipient, and received the Grammy Trustees Award in 1981 and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously in 2002.

Black History Month – Al Jarreau and Robinson Center

aljWhile he made a few subsequent visits in the intervening years, Al Jarreau’s first visit to Little Rock was in May 2002, when he performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra at Robinson Center Music Hall.

By that time, Jarreau was a Grammy winning artist with a decades long career.  He received a total of seven Grammy Awards (and several other nominations). So in a way it was fitting that he died on the day that the 2017 Grammy Awards were handed out.

Jarreau’s unique vocal sounds lent itself to many different styles of music.  He would sing jazz, R&B, and standards from the American songbook.  While his recordings were a delight, seeing him perform in concert was even better due to the joy in his face as he was performing.

Born in Milwaukee, he was the son of a minister and church musician.  Growing up singing music, he sang in groups while in college (though his degree was in psychology).  While working as a rehab counselor in San Francisco in the late 1960s, he started performing in music clubs in the Bay Area.  In 1968, he made music his primary vocation. (But education remained a key focus of his philanthropic and volunteer activities.)

In the 1970s and 1980s, he recorded and toured extensively.  In the 1990s, he did not record as much, but kept up his touring schedule.  He also played the Teen Angel on Broadway in a revival of Grease.  He kept touring up until earlier this year.  On February 8, after being hospitalized, he announced his retirement from touring.