Oxford American, in collaboration with Fayetteville Roots, University of Arkansas Center for Multicultural & Diversity Education, Vernon AME Church, and the Woody Guthrie Center are holding a four-day community experience, the organizations announced Tuesday. This four-day slate culminates around two live performances of the No Tears Suite in Fayetteville and Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Sept. 23-26. All events are free to attend — registration information and event times will be announced in early September.
The events begin in Fayetteville on Thursday, Sept. 23, with an evening community workshop and panel discussion at the Fayetteville Public Library moderated by staff from the University of Arkansas Center for Multicultural & Diversity Education. On Friday, Sept. 24, musicians from the No Tears Suite ensemble will host a morning music master class at the Fayetteville Public Library for University of Arkansas and area high school music and jazz students. That evening, the No Tears Suite will be performed at the Fayetteville Public Library.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, on the 64th anniversary of Little Rock Central High School’s desegregation, the event will relocate to Tulsa for a community potluck 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, Sept. 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, Roland Guerin, Marc Franklin and Chad Fowler. The Suite honors the sacrifices and ongoing work of all those who strive to build a more just and equal society.
A comprehensive event schedule and ticketing details will be released in early September and can be found at fayettevilleroots.org.