Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


Leave a comment

Central to Creativity – Deborah Mathis

Deborah Mathis has deep Arkansas roots.  She grew up in Little Rock the daughter of Rev. Lloyd Myers, a Baptist minister, and Rachel A. Myers Jones, a teacher.

Her journalistic pursuits began as early as junior high school, when she became the first black editor of West Side Junior High’s school newspaper. In 1970 she became the first black and first female editor of Central High School’s Tiger student newspaper. From the early 70′s through the early 90′s, Mathis was busy establishing herself as a journalist and broadcaster. She served in various positions ” reporter, editor, columnist and anchor ” at statewide media outlets including the Arkansas DemocratArkansas Gazette, KARK-Channel 4, KTH V-Channel 11, and KATV-Channel 7 From Arkansas, Mathis career took her to briefly to Jackson, Mississippi before she landed in Washington, D.C., where she was a White House Correspondent for Gannett News Service from 1993-2000.

Since 1992, Mathis has been a syndicated columnist, appearing in more than 100 U.S. publications and periodicals. She is also a contributor to such outlets as USA Today and BlackAmericaWeb.com and a frequent commentator on political and public affairs talk shows such as PBS’s Frontline, CNNs Inside Politics NPR’s All Things Considered America’s Black Forum and Oprah, to name a few. She also field-produced, wrote and narrated two nationally aired documentaries: “Edukashun: The Cost of Failure” (1982) and “Return of the Little Rock Nine” (1987).

Mathis is the author of Yet A Stranger Why Black Americans Still Don’t Feel at Home, Sole Sisters: The Joy and Pains of Single Black Women and What God Can Do: How Faith Changes Lives for the Better.  She has also been an assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism (Washington office).  In 2003, she was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

Advertisements


4 Comments

Remembering Betty Fowler

(Photo courtesy of Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation)

Arkansas entertainer icon Betty Fowler died Saturday, April 15, 2017.

The information below is adapted from her obituary.

Betty was born on September 17, 1925 in Wynne, Arkansas to the late Harry Willis Hunter and Elizabeth Sands Hunter. 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.


2 Comments

Little Rock Look Back: Central & Hall Football at 2-0

lrchs-lrhhsAfter two weeks of prep gridiron (that is high school football to those who don’t write like a 1950s inky wretch), Little Rock Central and Little Rock Hall are both posting records of 2 wins and 0 losses.  This feat has not been achieved in quite a while.

How long?  37 seasons!  It was 1979, the last time that the Tigers and Warriors were both out of the gate at 2-0.

1979

Jimmy Carter was in the White House. Bill Clinton was in his first term as Governor. First Lady Hillary Rodham was several months pregnant with Chelsea. Hall High and Razorback standout Webb Hubbell was Mayor of Little Rock.  The City’s population was in the 150,000s (it would be 159,151 after the 1980 census).  Little Rock had an area of approximately 80 square miles.  (Today it is approximately 200,000 citizens over 122 square miles.)

Lou Holtz was coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Southwest Conference.  Harry Hall was in his first season as Commissioner of the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference.  Rex Nelson was a student at Ouachita.  Paul Eells was in his second year with KATV, while Dave Woodman was finishing his first decade at KARK.  Gary Hogan was anchoring sports for KTHV.  Hogs football games were broadcast on KAAY radio.  While Bob Buice and Jim Elder were ruling the airwaves at KARN, Craig O’Neill was dominating mornings at KLAZ.

Orville Henry, Jim Bailey, and Wadie Moore covered college and high school sports for the Arkansas Gazette.  The Arkansas Democrat had switched to morning delivery and hired John Robert Starr as editor.  Both papers carried ads for Kempners, Golds, M.M. Cohn, Skaggs Albertsons, Minute Man, Union National Bank, Commercial National Bank, Worthen National Bank, and First National Bank.

Metrocentre Mall existed with bricked over streets on Main and Capitol. The Grady Manning Hotel and Hotel Marion still stood (though in their twilight days before their February 1980 date with demolition.)

So a lot has changed since Central and Hall previously achieved this.  In the interval, Central has been 2-0 a dozen times and Hall has achieved that a brace. But the schools never managed it during the same season.  Three times the schools both managed 1-1 seasons and seven times they each started at 0-2.

The 1979 Warriors were helmed by C. W. Keopple, who would lead the team from the 1960s into the 1980s winning four conference/state titles. (When your conference is statewide, winning one got you the other.)  Bernie Cox was in his fifth season as the Tigers’ mentor, with two state championships already under his belt, five more would be in his future.

The teams stayed tied through the fourth week. But in the fifth week, while Central won, Hall lost to Parkview by a score of 7-0.  The following week, the Warriors rebounded, while the Tigers settled for a 0 to 0 tie with Ole Main.  Weeks seven through ten saw both teams notching another win each week.  This set up a Thanksgiving Day classic with the state’s top two teams facing off.  Central was slightly favored, but season records seldom carried any weight when the two cross-town rivals played on Thanksgiving afternoon.  In an upset, Hall bested Central by a score of 17 to 0.

From 1987 to 1990, the second game of the season was the Hall-Central matchup, which meant that it would have been impossible to both start with a 2-0 record.  This second week matchup was made necessary by the fact that not only could the two teams no longer face off on Thanksgiving after 1982, but the two schools were not in the same conference from 1983 through 2000. So the faceoff was early in the season, during the non-conference portion.

Due to subsequent restructurings by the Arkansas Activities Association, the two schools have not played a football game since 2005.  The bell from the “Battle of the Bell” which was supposed to replace the pageantry and intense rivalry of the Thanksgiving Day matchups, sat forlornly and largely forgotten in the trophy case at Central following the 2005 edition which Central won by a score of 24 to 7.  (That season Central started at 0-2 on the way to a 5-5 record and Hall started at 1-1 on the way to a 3-7 record.)  UPDATE: As noted in a comment on this piece, the Bell has now been refurbished and sits proudly at Quigley Stadium.  Thank you Belinda Stilwell for the information!

Who knows how the 2016 season will turn out for these two teams?  In the past 2-0 has led both to State Championships and to a 6-4 record.  But for two schools that have struggled in the past few seasons, to start with a 2-0 record is quite an accomplishment. For both to start with that record is remarkable.

 

While the blog hiatus and a restructuring continue, this was a bit of history that needed mentioning.


The Museum of Discovery’s Kevin Delaney returns to Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon tonight

kevin30rock-headshotKevin Delaney, director of visitor experience at the Museum of Discovery, will make his fourth appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” at 10:35 p.m. Tuesday, March 1 on NBC.  Delaney serves as the show’s “science expert” and performs multiple science demonstrations with Fallon serving as his lab assistant.
“I cannot wait to return to ‘The Tonight Show’,” Delaney said.  “We’ve got some great demos planned that will show how amazing science is while highlighting some of the exciting things our visitors experience at the museum.”
Delaney made his successful “Tonight Show” debut on May 5, 2014, and returned again on November 7, 2014, and most recently, May 22, 2015.  To watch his first three appearances, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OELiqiIHZEI,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQWtZd8jM3g


Museum of Discovery’s Kevin Delaney to Make 4th appearance on ‘The Tonight Show’–POSTPONED

mod delaney 

UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, this will be rescheduled for a future date. 

Kevin Delaney, director of visitor experience at the Museum of Discovery, will make his fourth appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” at 10:35 p.m. Friday, September 18, on NBC.  In Little Rock, it will air on KARK.  Delaney serves as the show’s “science expert” and performs multiple science demonstrations with Fallon serving as his lab assistant.

“I cannot wait to return to ‘The Tonight Show’,” Delaney said.  “We’ve got some great demos planned that will show how amazing science is while highlighting some of the exciting things our visitors experience at the museum.”

According to Museum of Discovery CEO Kelley Bass, Delaney’s fourth appearance is perfect timing.  “Kevin’s appearance will occur on the eve of our largest public event, Tinkerfest, which is a day devoted to tinkering and engineering for all ages.  Kevin’s role on ‘The Tonight Show’ has definitely raised awareness about the Museum of Discovery and its mission of igniting a passion for science, technology and math.”

Delaney made his successful “Tonight Show” debut on May 5, 2014 and returned again on November 7, 2014 and most recently, May 22.  To watch his first three appearances, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OELiqiIHZEI, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQWtZd8jM3g  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMplxEE4xdo

For more information, call 501-396-7050 or visit www.museumofdiscovery.org.


Special Movies in the Park tonight: KARK & LRCVB present GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

MITP WPS GOTGMovies in the Park returns to downtown Little Rock as part of a special “Razorback Nation River Market Takeover” event the night before the Arkansas Razorbacks host Toledo in Little Rock.

KARK-TV and the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau will present a free showing of Guardians of the Galaxy at sundown around 8:00 p.m. Movies in the Park takes place at the First Security Amphitheater in Riverfront Park.

This 2014 super hero sci-fi film features Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace, Djimon Honsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benecio Del Toro and the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.

Following the movie, Razorback Nation will broadcast “Gear Up for Game Day” (10:15 p.m.) live from the River Market. One lucky fan who sticks around for the broadcast will win a pair of tickets to see the legendary Stevie Wonder in concert!

Prior to the movie, dining specials will be offered at various restaurants in and around the River Market.


Black History Month Spotlight: Lencola Sullivan

Entertainer and journalist Lencola Sullivan broke many barriers. While she gained recognition as a pageant winner, she also made a name for herself on other arenas.

In 1980, she was crowned Miss Arkansas, becoming the first contestant in pageant history to win the talent award and the title.

In the Miss America pageant, she became the first African American to win a preliminary award and to place among the top five finalists.

Around the time she was competing in pageants, she was employed by KARK as a producer and eventually an on-air reporter.

She eventually moved to New York to focus on her career as a singer and public speaker.

Sullivan had studied piano for seven years and voice and organ for one year. As a vocalist, she performed with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, with Stevie Wonder, with Kool and the Gang, and at both of President Bill Clinton’s inaugural balls, in 1993 and 1997.

She has also performed throughout The Netherlands, on Dutch National Television, and at Jazz Club 606 in London. Sullivan has also appeared on several television soap operas, in industrial films, and in many television commercials.

In 2002, Sullivan married Roel P. Verseveldt of The Hague. She and her husband are involved in international business activities. Sullivan is a frequent lecturer at Hanze University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands.

She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2006. For more information on Lencola Sullivan and the other Arkansas Black Hall of Fame inductees, visit the permanent exhibit at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage