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The Story of 2 Oklahomans Told Through Music

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Lawton, Okla_ Lawton got a taste of some Oklahoma and world history Saturday night through a historical lecture that told the lives of two men and Oklahoma natives.

The musical performance and lecture at Lawton's City Hall Auditorium was put on by the Black Liberated Arts Center.

It highlighted Ralph Ellison and Charlie Christian, two men that not only put their mark on Oklahoma history but also the world.

Charlie Christian and Ralph Ellison were best friends, two years apart in age. One wrote a book among other things, and the other has been declared the father of bebop. Lawton truly was blessed to not only have a historian come speak to their accomplishments, but also to have one amazing jazz performance.

It's the music we know so well. That we have danced to, sang to, and just enjoyed.

And the amazing people who have had their part in creating history, Charlie Christian did just that.

 "Even though Charlie Christian died at the age of 25 guitar players throughout the world revere him because of his contribution to guitar music. He introduced the single string solo on the electric guitar," said Anita Arnold.

If Christian gave voice to the electric guitar, then Ralph Ellison was the voice of jazz music. He wrote "The Invisible Man" which won him the national book award in 1953.  Dr. John Rhea said it's the close friendship between the two that led to their accomplishments.

"Drawing on his friendship with Charlie Christian and in Deep Deuce in Oklahoma City pioneered what is known as jazz writing. These are two unique art forms to Oklahoma," said Dr. Rhea.

African Americans were the second largest ethnic group up until the late 1800's. The history and culture that emerged from the group is one that holds strong importance.

 "This is a history that needs to be revisited and a history that needs to be told," said Dr. Rhea.

 And it's history that both Ellison and Christian played a part in.

 "Both of these two giants have created something that is timeless that lives on and on and on and touches the lives of people everywhere around the world," said Anita Arnold.

 Literature and music will forever be impacted by these two native Oklahomans, a very important piece of Oklahoma history retold here in our Lawton.

 If you missed it Saturday's performance, it is not too late for you to enjoy some of Oklahoma's history told through music.  The next performance will be in Oklahoma City on January 18th at the Frederick Douglas Auditorium.

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