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Important Arkansan: Pharoah Sanders

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Born in Little Rock in 1940, Grammy award-winning Ferrell “Pharoah” Sanders, noted jazz saxophonist, is recognized as a pioneer of the “free jazz” movement. Collaborations with artists such as Sun Ra and John Coltrane remain his most noted work, but his solo efforts stretch over four decades from 1964 to the present.

Click here to watch Sanders perform with William Henderson (piano), Dennis Carrol (bass) and George Fludas (drums), concluding the Iowa City Jazz Festival on July 7, 2013.

Sanders began his musical career accompanying church hymns on clarinet, but his initial artistic accomplishments were in art. He discovered the tenor saxophone while attending Scipio Jones High School in North Little Rock. His band director, Jimmy Cannon, introduced the student to jazz. When Cannon left the school, Sanders (still a student!) took over as the band director until a replacement was found. During the late 1950s, Sanders sneaked into clubs in downtown Little Rock to play with acts that were passing through. At the time, Little Rock was part of the touring route through Memphis, Tennessee, and Hot Springs for rhythm and blues (R&B) and jazz musicians, including Junior Parker. Limited by the state’s segregation and the R&B and jazz standards that dominated the Little Rock music scene, Sanders left for Oakland, California, where he lived with relatives and could play in both white and black clubs. While in the Bay Area, Sanders was given the nickname, “Little Rock.” During his stay in California, Sanders met and befriended John Coltrane Read More

Almeda Riddle and Alan Lomax

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Folklorist Alan Lomax spent his career documenting folk music traditions from around the world. He and his father John spent time in Arkansas collecting old stories and songs. Recently thousands of the songs and interviews Lomax recorded were made available for free online, many for the first time, including outtakes and false starts. It’s a real treasure-trove for folk music fans. Listen to a two-part interview and song session Lomaxrecorded with Arkansas’s own folk music treasure, Almeda Riddle, about the song, “Down in the Arkansas.”  Part One; Part Two  Discovered by a ballad collector in the 1950s, Almeda James Riddle of Greers Ferry (Cleburne County) became a prominent figure in America’s folk music revival. Her memory of ballads, hymns, and children’s songs was one of the largest single repertories documented by folksong scholars. After two decades of concerts and recordings, she received the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts for her contributions to the preservation of Ozark folksong traditions. [Photograph by Alan Lomax, courtesy of the Association of Cultural Equity.]   Read More

Museum to Present Free Music Performances, extend hours once a month

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Tuesday, February 03, 2015



The Old State House Museum announced today its schedule for Second Friday Art Night at the Museum. The Museum will present musical performances and extend its hours on the second Friday of each month.  Read More

Museum Sets Plans to Mark Black History Month 2015

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Monday, January 26, 2015



Little Rock, AR (Jan. 26, 2015) --- February at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center will feature numerous activities to celebrate Black History month. All events are free and open to the public.  Read More