Tickets (free) are now available for two live performances of the No Tears Suite, including worldwide streaming of Saturday’s concert, live from the historic Vernon AME church. The event also includes a virtual panel discussion featuring musicians and community leaders from No Tears Suite, Vernon AME, and the Greenwood community. All events in Tulsa are made possible by the leadership and guidance of The Woody Guthrie Center. No Tears Suite, originally commissioned and presented by Oxford American in 2017, was written by Little Rock jazz pianist Christopher Parker and vocalist Kelley Hurt. The Suite is a monumental ode to the Little Rock Nine and was performed at Central High School National Historic Site in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Little Rock Central High School’s integration. No Tears Suite honors the sacrifices and ongoing work of all those who strive to build a more just and equal society. In this reprisal, Parker and Hurt will be joined by five exceptional jazz artists, including GRAMMY-winning jazz drummer Brian Blade, Jamel Mitchell (tenor saxophone), Roland Guerin (bass), Marc Franklin (trumpet and flugelhorn), and Chad Fowler (baritone and alto saxophone).
Vernon AME Church will host the concert on Saturday, September 25. The concert will take place in the historic sanctuary, located at 311 N. Greenwood Ave. in Tulsa, OK. Indoor capacity is limited to 200 people, with a live screening on the lawn outside Vernon AME to allow for overflow capacity and safe social distancing. Doors to the church and lawn seating will open to the public at 6:30 p.m. and the performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night’s concert will also be available for online streaming via fayettevilleroots.org. During Saturday evening’s event, Vernon AME’s recently restored Hammond CV organ, historic microphones, and RCA Victor Speaker will also be reinstated in the church’s sanctuary. First installed in Vernon AME in 1944, the historic organ has served generations of Vernon AME members through countless traditional hymns and melodies. Fayetteville Roots partnered with Reverend Dr. Robert Turner of Vernon AME to restore the organ and historic microphones.
“I am extremely honored to have these invaluable instruments restored and am deeply grateful to Fayetteville Roots for their kind, most generous donation of time and resources. This Hammond Organ and these microphones delivered the message of hope to the community in the years after the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. I am thrilled they will continue in service. They are yet another reminder and testament of Greenwood’s resiliency,” said Reverend Dr. Robert Turner of Vernon AME.
“Growing up in Tulsa, I encountered the legacy of Vernon AME church as a teen when I first learned about the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. The legacy of perseverance of Vernon AME and Greenwood captivated and inspired me. I have spent my entire adult life grappling with what the people of my hometown did to the Greenwood community. In the legacy of fellow Okie, Woody Guthrie, I made a lifelong commitment to telling that story through song. Working with this amazing team of community organizers to present the No Tears Suite in Fayetteville and Tulsa and to see these historic instruments restored is a dream come true. I feel this project is helping to build an artistic and community bridge between Arkansas and Oklahoma. Our two states share so much. Our region and our shared history is not bound or separated by borders or walls,” said Bryan Hembree, Co-Founder of Fayetteville Roots & Director of Arts & Culture for the UA Center for Multicultural & Diversity Education. *more* NO TEARS SUITE/three
In an effort to safeguard musicians and guests, reduced capacity and social distancing practices will be in place during both performances, and masks are required indoors.
The comprehensive event schedule and ticketing details for the performances and virtual panel can be found at fayettevilleroots.org. Limited quantities of tickets are available and are free to reserve.
Saturday, September 25, in Tulsa, OK at 7:30 p.m. The virtual panel discussion will be available to viewers nationwide on Sunday, September 26 at 2 p.m. CST.
On Saturday, September 25, on the 64th anniversary of Little Rock Central High School’s desegregation, the event will be in Tulsa, OK at Vernon AME Church in the Greenwood Community of Tulsa. Hosted by the Rev. Dr. Robert Turner, the potluck will be an outdoor affair on the lawn of Vernon AME followed by a performance of No Tears Suite in the historic sanctuary. On Sunday, September 26, a panel discussion and workshop, “Teaching Truth to Power,” will be held at the Woody Guthrie Center.
Presented originally in 2017 by Oxford American, the No Tears Suite, written by Little Rock jazz pianist Christopher Parker and vocalist Kelley Hurt, is a monumental ode to the Little Rock Nine and was performed at Central High School National Historic Site in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Little Rock Central High School’s integration. In this reprisal, Parker and Hurt will be joined by five exceptional jazz artists, including GRAMMY-winning jazz drummer Brian Blade, in addition to Bobby LaVell (tenor saxophone), Roland Guerin (bass), Marc Franklin (trumpet and flugelhorn) and Chad Fowler (baritone and alto saxophone). The Suite honors the sacrifices and ongoing work of all those who strive to build a more just and equal society.
“I’m humbled that the No Tears Suite and residency programs will be presented in Fayetteville and Tulsa in 2021, especially in collaboration with such meaningful partners. While we never imagined that five years after conception we would still be presenting this project, No Tears’ enduring appeal speaks to a deeper importance in the music’s message—one that transcends mere entertainment. The Suite’s power lies in its ability to synthesize the past with the present. The programs bring communities together in a non-threatening way—in this case, using history and music—to facilitate the sometimes difficult personal reflection and conversations about civil rights that can inspire us all to keep working towards equality,” said Ryan Harris of the Oxford American.
“The No Tears Suite immediately drew me in because of its power to tell the Little Rock Nine story through song. It was immediately clear to me that Chris Parker and Kelley Hurt and the team at Oxford American had created an important musical narrative of the Little Rock Nine and their heroic efforts to desegregate Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The original piece of music is not only vital to the Little Rock community but will impact Northwest Arkansas and beyond,” said Bryan Hembree, Co-Founder of Fayetteville Roots & Director of Arts & Culture for the UA Center for Multicultural & Diversity Education.
“In the Multicultural Center and Student Affairs, we are thrilled to engage in this collaboration that commemorates the Little Rock Nine and celebrates the bravery and dignity of those young leaders who pursued justice in education. This is a dynamic programming and events series that creates wonderful opportunities for our students and community to honor the rich voice of jazz music in civil rights activism, past and present,” said Leslie Yingling, Associate Dean of Students and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Success and Multicultural Initiatives, Division of Student Affairs.
“I am honored to have Vernon AME host this concert in September and to collaborate with so many community partners and organizations. Music is a healing balm and has been an important pillar of our church from our earliest congregations to today. The tone and timbre of No Tears Suite will resonate in our sanctuary and in our community,” said Reverend Dr. Robert Turner of Vernon AME.
“Woody knew the power that comes from building a positive, supportive community. We are proud to join with our friends from Arkansas and Greenwood to unify our communities and honor the young freedom fighters who fearlessly integrated Central High School,” said Deana McCloud, Woody Guthrie Center Executive Director.
In addition to the collaborative presenting organizations, this free event series is made possible through the in-kind, community support of North Arkansas Jazz Society, Greenwood Cultural Center, and Fayetteville Public Library.