Arkansas Music

Arkansas State Fair
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The 2019 Arkansas State Fair kicks off Friday, running through Sunday, Oct. 20. At the fairgrounds along Roosevelt Road in Little Rock, rides are being assembled and game booths set up. General Manager Doug White says several new rides will be among the more than 60 rides on the midway.

Last year, six days of rain hurt attendance, he said. The fair typically averages 400,000 to 450,000 people each year. This year, White is hoping to exceed that.

Photo from cover of Thought We Were Writing the Blues: But They Called It Rock 'n' Roll

Explore the Music of This Rock & Roll Pioneer

In Part II, Arts & Letters continues speaking with biographer Arlene Corsano about the music and career of Arkansan songwriter and singer Rose Marie McCoy and Corsano's book Thought We Were Writing The Blues But They Called It Rock 'n' Roll.

Catch up and listen to Part I before this episode!

Discover one of America's most prolific songwriters.

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we speak with biographer Arlene Corsano about the life and music of Arkansan songwriter and singer Rose Marie McCoy. 

Through personal stories and rare interview recordings with McCoy, Corsona tells the in-depth and behind-the-scenes story of a complicated singer and songwriter who broke barrier after barrier as a black woman in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s in the music business. 

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we celebrate the music from Season Five.

Hosted by producer Mary Ellen Kubit this episode shares favorite and memorable music from the various episodes this year. 

Our Executive Producer and Host J. Bradley Minnick is busy in the studio recording for Season Six, but he'll break away for a few minutes for a behind the scenes discussion about how music is selected and placed in various episodes.           

Asa Hutchinson signing bills
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

All bills passed during the 2019 session of the Arkansas General Assembly have been signed into law. Gov. Asa Hutchinson did not veto any bills this year. He signed the final pieces of legislation Wednesday afternoon alongside several lawmakers.

A formal adjournment is set to take place next Wednesday when lawmakers return to the Capitol for Sine Die. In some previous years, that has been when senators and representatives have had to consider whether to attempt to override gubernatorial vetoes, something that won’t be necessary this time.

Johnny Cash Daisy Bates
Library of Congress/ National Park Service

A proposal to replace Arkansas’s two statues in the U.S. Capitol with singer Johnny Cash and civil rights leader Daisy Bates has advanced to the state House of Representatives for what could be a final vote. The bill was passed in the Arkansas Senate last month with no one voting against it.

Maxine Brown Russell
County Music Hall of Fame

Maxine Brown Russell, a country music singer and songwriter who performed as part of a trio with her siblings Jim Ed Brown and Bonnie Brown, died Monday in hospice care in Little Rock. She was 87.

The Browns had several hits in the 1950s and ‘60s, including "The Three Bells" which topped Billboard’s country and Hot 100 pop charts for weeks and sold more than a million copies. The group was also nominated for a Grammy. They joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1963 and were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015.

A Tennessee rapper has been sentenced in Arkansas to five years in prison on a federal weapons charge that came after he was arrested with a gun a week before a shooting at an unrelated event at a Little Rock nightclub where he was performing.

Ricky Hampton, who performs under the name Finese2Tymes, was sentenced Thursday in Little Rock.

Hampton, who has a prior felony conviction, initially pleaded guilty in March to possessing a gun at a Forrest City nightclub in eastern Arkansas. He sought to withdraw his guilty plea in October, but withdrew the request two weeks later.

Attorney Solomon Radner (left) with plaintiffs Tyrone Jackson and Tasheara announcing the lawsuit Wednesday. They contend the Power Ultra Lounge was negligent by not providing better security.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Nineteen people who were injured during a mass shooting last year at a Little Rock nightclub are suing the manager of the Power Ultra Lounge and its property owner. Twenty-five people were hit when gunfire erupted between rival gang members at a performance by the rapper known as Finese2Tymes. Three others were injured while trying to escape the club.

Attorney Solomon Radner of Southfield, Mich. says the club was negligent by failing to have adequately trained security and staff for that kind of event.

A Tennessee rapper wants to withdraw his guilty plea from a weapons charge that was filed after he was arrested with a gun following a shooting at a Little Rock nightclub that left 25 injured last summer.

An attorney for Ricky Hampton said in a filing in federal court Monday that Hampton wanted a hearing on his request to withdraw his guilty plea and have substitute counsel appointed. Hampton in March pleaded guilty and admitted he possessed a gun at an eastern Arkansas night club a week before the Little Rock shooting.

The recent Johnny Cash Heritage Festival in Dyess has reneweed interest in the musical legend's childhood. 

In this new video from Arkansas Public Media, we take a look inside the agricultural resettlement home in rural Dyess where Johnny, then known as J.R., lived with his parents and six siblings after the Great Depression. 

Johnny Cash Festival To Honor 50th Anniversary Of Prison Concert

Oct 16, 2018
Johnny Cash Boyhood Home
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Man in Black was on the verge of losing it all. He was recently divorced, and drugs and alcohol continued to ravage Johnny Cash’s body and mind. He needed a comeback, and it was time to gamble.

Cash arrived at Folsom, a prison near Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 13, 1968. His performance in front of about 1,000 inmates, became one of the most iconic moments in American music and resurrected his career.

Louis Jordan Highway
Stephen Koch / Arkansongs

A pioneering musician from Brinkley is being posthumously honored by having part of U.S. 49 in eastern Arkansas dedicated as the Louis Jordan Memorial Highway. A ceremony was held Monday with officials from the Arkansas Department of Transportation and other dignitaries who came together to unveil a sign alongside the highway.

Almost 25 years to the day that Conway Twitty died at the age of 59, relatives, former bandmates and fans of the country and rockabilly singer gathered Friday in his hometown of Helena, Arkansas for a celebration of his life. 

Born Harold Lloyd Jenkins in 1933 at Friars Point, Mississippi, his family moved to east Arkansas at the age of 10. After serving in the military, he returned home and had to decide between two dreams: music or baseball, according to Doug Friedlander, organizer of Friday's events. Inspired by the sound of Elvis Pressley, Jenkins traveled to Memphis, working with Sam Phillips at Sun Records.

Arkansas-born jazz musician Bob Dorough died Monday at the age of 94. While he was an acclaimed bebop pianist who was part of the 1950s New York jazz scene, Dorough reached his widest audience writing and singing songs designed to make learning fun for kids.

He was one of the primary musicians used in the Schoolhouse Rock! short films that aired between Saturday morning cartoons in the 1970s and ‘80s. The three-minute lessons were set to music and taught mathematics, grammar, civics and science.

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