Museum to conduct month-long celebration honoring the African-American experience in music

CLEVELAND (January 26, 2009) – In honor of Black History Month, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has planned a month-long tribute entitled Through the Lens of Sepia Magazine:  35 Years of the African-American Experience in Music. This year marks the Rock Hall’s 13th annual celebration and will include a series of FREE public programs designed to give audiences a closer look into the groundbreaking Sepia magazine, in addition to the African-American artists portrayed throughout its pages.  The months of events focus on musicians and record labels from the 1950s and 1960s, especially the blues artists and vocal groups that gave birth to rock and roll, the rhythm and blues of King Records in Cincinnati and Chess Records in Chicago, and the driving rhythms of New Orleans.

This month is presented in conjunction with the Rock Hall’s newest exhibit, The Sepia Magazine Photo Archive - 1948-1983, which is now open in the Museum’s Circular Gallery. A complete schedule of events is listed below.

Throughout the month, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame education department will offer a special Black History Month class entitled Picture the Sound: Through the Lens of Sepia Magazine as part of its interdisciplinary educational program, Rockin’ the Schools, in which students will view landmark performances and historical photographs, while examining the contributions of Sepia magazine as a whole.

**Unless otherwise noted, all events are free with a reservation.  Please email or call 216.515.8426 to RSVP.

The Rock Hall’s 2009 Black History Month schedule of events:

Wednesday February 4, 7pm, Baker Nord Center for the Humanities, Case Western Reserve University, Clark 309:
Capturing the African-American Experience: An Evening with Carole Anthony, Curator of the Sepia Magazine Photo Archive.

Carole Anthony’s presentation will include an overview of the Sepia Magazine Photo Archive collection, in which she will talk about the history of this project.  She will also lead a discussion on several of the significant photos in the collection, providing a historical retrospective of African-American musicians, entertainers, composers and producers in a wide variety of musical styles.

Monday February 9, 7pm, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 4th Floor Theater
An Evening with Deborah Chessler, Songwriter and Former Manager of the Orioles

As the songwriter and creative force behind the legendary vocal quintet, the Orioles, Deborah Chessler helped shape a new style of music that would become known as rhythm and blues.  Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Deborah started writing songs at a young age.  After being introduced to the Orioles’ singer Sonny Til in 1948, Deborah soon became the group’s manager.  The Orioles’ first recording was the Deborah Chessler composition, “It’s Too Soon To Know.” The song was such a departure from the pop-influenced songs of the day that hundreds of African-American vocal groups immediately changed their singing styles to sound like the Orioles.  During Deborah’s six years managing the group (which included the Chessler-penned recordings “Tell Me So” and “Forgive and Forget”) the Orioles created a sound that evolved into the Golden Age of Vocal Groups.

Deborah will be interviewed in front of a live audience by Dr. Charles Horner, one of the foremost authorities on early rhythm and blues and doo wop music.

Wednesday February 11, 4:30pm, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Eat to the Beat
Teachers Rock:  Professional Development Series for K-12 Educators with Toni Starinsky

This Black History Month edition of Teachers Rock will feature Cleveland School of the Arts teacher and director of visual arts Toni Starinsky. Ms. Starinsky will discuss creative lessons that she has initiated for photography students that encourage critical analysis of relevant socio-cultural issues that face the city of Cleveland.  She will outline the methods she employs to develop these materials and her students will present their final projects.

Teachers Rock provides a forum for K-12 level teachers and school administrators who are interested in integrating popular music into their classrooms across the disciplines. The monthly series is offered free of charge from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on the 2nd Wednesday of each month. Each session explores a moment in the history of popular music and includes a featured lesson or resource. 

Wednesday February 11, 7pm, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 4th Floor Theater
Hall of Fame Series with Lloyd Price

Lloyd Price is widely known as “Mr. Personality,” a nickname taken from his 1959 hit “Personality.” His biggest hit was “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” an original song produced by Dave Bartholomew and featuring Fats Domino on piano, which topped the rhythm and blues charts for seven weeks in 1952.

Price continued to place his own recordings on the rhythm and blues charts into the Seventies. Meanwhile, he performed around the country with a nine-piece band while keeping a resourceful hand in various other entrepreneurial pursuits and ventures.

Price will be interviewed in front of a live audience as part of the Museum’s Hall of Fame Series, which offers audiences rare and unique access to Hall of Famers in an intimate setting. 

Friday February 13, 1pm, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 4th Floor Theater
Hall of Fame Series with Little Anthony & The Imperials

Little Anthony & The Imperials is a rhythm and blues/soul/doo-wop vocal group from New York, first active in the 1950s. Lead singer Jerome Anthony “Little Anthony” Gourdine was noted for his high-pitched falsetto voice influenced by Jimmy Scott. Changing their name to The Imperials in 1957, they signed with End Records in 1958. Their first single was “Tears on My Pillow”, which was an instant hit. In 1964 the group made a rare transition into soul music with a series of hit including “I’m On the Outside (Looking In) and “Goin’ Out of My Head.” Little Anthony and the Imperials will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2009.

Little Anthony will be interviewed in front of a live audience as part of the Museum’s Hall of Fame Series, which offers audiences rare and unique access to Hall of Famers in an intimate setting. 

Wednesday February 18, 7pm, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 4th Floor Theater
From Songwriters to Soundmen with Philip Paul

Born in New York and raised in Manhattan, legendary drummer Philip Paul began his music career at the age of 16.  His career took off when he began playing with musicians such as Sonny Stitt, Bud Powell, and Dizzy Gillespie.  In 1951, Paul traveled to Cincinnati, where he would soon meet Syd Nathan, president and owner of King Records.  Philip became the studio drummer for King Records from 1952 to 1964, playing on over 350 recordings with artists such as Hank Ballard, Milt Buckner, and Freddie King. 

Philip Paul will be interviewed in front of a live audience as part of the Museum’s “From Songwriters to Soundmen: The People Behind the Hits” free educational series that shines the spotlight on the people whose contributions to the rock and roll art form are often as powerful as those of the artists themselves.  He will be joined onstage by his wife, Juanita Paul, a former employee of King Records. 

Monday February 23, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 4th Floor Theater
7:00 pm:  Film Screening – Cadillac Records
6:30 pm:  Special Pre-Screening discussion with Director Darnell Martin

Cadillac Records chronicles the rise of Chess Records and its recording artists.  In this tale of sex, violence, race and rock and roll in 1950’s Chicago, the film follows the exciting but turbulent lives of some of America’s musical legends, including Muddy Waters, Leonard Chess, Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Etta James, and Chuck Berry.

The film stars Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess, Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters, Columbus Short as Little Walter, Mos Def as Chuck Berry and Beyoncé Knowles as Etta James.

Director Darnell Martin has made a name for herself as the director of numerous television dramas, including Homicide:  Life on the Street, Oz, ER, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Grey’s Anatomy, The L Word, and Law and Order: Criminal Intent.  In 2005, she helmed HBO’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, starring Halle Berry and Terrence Howard, and produced by Quincy Jones and Oprah Winfrey.

Wednesday February 25, 7pm, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 4th Floor Theater
Rock and Roll Night School:  The History of King Records

Rock and Roll Night School is a monthly series of educational, discussion-based night classes offered free of charge from 7 pm – 8:30 pm in the Museum’s 4th floor theater.  Lauren Onkey, Vice President of Education and Public Programming, and Jason Hanley, musicologist and Director of Education at the Rock Hall, will lead this month’s class, which will focus on the legendary recordings on King Records.

Between 1943 and 1971, the address of 1540 Brewster Avenue in Cincinnati was home to some of the most vibrant and eclectic music making in America.  King brought together the most diverse range of American voices that reflect Cincinnati’s unique geographical position as a crossroads of American culture: rhythm and blues, country, bluegrass, rockabilly, pop and blues records all poured out of King’s studios. 

Join us as we examine Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees like Hank Ballard, James Brown, and label founder Syd Nathan, while also looking at the contributions of artists such as Otis William & the Charms, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and the Stanley Brothers.  This class will also draw on interview footage recently conducted by Rock Hall staff and featuring Otis Williams (of the Charms), Bootsy Collins, and Ralph Stanley. 

Additional events will be announced in the coming weeks.

First published in Fort Worth, Texas in 1947 by George Levitan, Sepia magazine often exposed the obstacles facing African-Americans but more importantly, it celebrated their accomplishments. By way of its popular photojournalistic style, the magazine closely focused on various aspects of the culture including politics, lifestyle and music. Especially during the civil rights era, Sepia was a clear and steady outlet of the African-American community to express its views and highlight its accomplishments.  The Sepia Magazine Photo Archive, owned by the African American Museum in Dallas, will be open at the Rock Hall until April 12, 2009.

In celebration of Black History Month each February the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum recognizes the extraordinary contributions that African-Americans have made to popular music. Since 1996, the Rock Hall’s Black History Month events have included film screenings, lectures, intimate evenings of conversation, and performances by local and national groups such as Robert Lockwood, Jr., The Temptations, Charles Brown, Ruth Brown, Take 6, Al Green, the Ohio Players and the Manhattans.

About the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is the nonprofit organization that exists to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music. It carries out this mission both through its operation of a world-class museum that collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets this art form and through its library and archives as well as its educational programs.

The Museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. On Wednesdays, the Museum is open until 9 p.m. Museum admission is $22 for adults, $17 for seniors (65+), $13 for youth (9-12), $18 for adult residents of Greater Cleveland. Children under 8 and Museum members are free. The Museum is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. When you become a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the world of rock and roll becomes yours to explore. Call 216.515.1939 for information on becoming a member. For general inquiries, please call 216.781.ROCK.