Jimmy Carter, the President Behind Black Music Month


BENTONVILLE, Ark.— In 1979, President Jimmy Carter decreed from his seat at the Oval Office that the month of June should be declared as Black Music Month.

Since that time, every sitting president in the United States has acknowledged the contributions of a cadre of singers, composers, and musicians of African descent who have left an indelible mark on the history of American music. For more than half a decade, Northwest Arkansas residents from all walks of life have been dancing, singing, and worshiping at inclusive events held throughout Northwest Arkansas, including the documentary screening of Waiting in the Wings: African Americans in Country Music in 2010, encore performance of Driving Miss Daisy at the Rogers Little Theatre in 2011, and the Soul Train Street Dance in 2012.

To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Black Music Month Celebration, organizers at Northwest Arkansas Events Unlimited have assembled a stellar lineup of inclusive activations for at esteemed local festivals including First Thursday Fayetteville, First Friday Bentonville, and Juneteenth 2013. The organization is also pleased to announce its inaugural speaker series, “Conversations with the Music Masters”, as well as the launch of a new presence on the web. The theme of this year’s celebration is a tribute to the musical legacy of Motown Records, a platinum hit making label established by record executive Berry Gordy back in 1959.

Fayetteville’s First Thursday is the site of the official kick off to Black Music Month 2013 on Thursday, June 6. For the second consecutive year, celebrity music impersonator Vince Gibbs will thrill audiences with his purple tribute to rock maestro Prince. He will mingle with fans, and also plans to pose for photos on the square near the downtown area in Arkansas’ third largest city at approximately 5:00 p.m.

The following day, the block party heads north to the City of Bentonville; A community with small town appeal which provides the perfect backdrop for a look at the past, present, and future of the Motor City sound machine known affectionately as Hitsville U.S.A. on June 7, at 5:00 p.m. For the first time, NWA Events will partner with the Walmart Visitors Center to bring the flair and excitement of Motown to the home of the world’s largest retailer at the city’s popular First Friday Celebration. The Coca-Cola Company is returning as a headlining sponsor this year, and in conjunction will display several recreations of a select group of advertisements featuring images of iconic music artists who have endorsed the company’s extensive line of soft drinks and beverages over its 126 year history. Inside the visitor’s center, the Spark Café will greet thousands from across the globe with the sweet sounds of Motown. In the theatre, viewers will have the opportunity to preview two award winning documentaries, “Standing in the Shadows of Motown,” and “Thunder Soul.” Outside on the Bentonville square, Landers McLarty will showcase the luxurious Chrysler 300 Motown Edition sedan, a special edition vehicle that comes with amenities such as an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, 20 inch wheels, 8.4 inch touch display, and amazing sound system equipped with some of Motown’s greatest hits.

Later in the evening, Northwest Arkansas’ own Soulful Sounds & Friends will take the stage for an encore performance of the Stax/Motown Tribute Concert held last year at George’s Majestic Lounge. The performance which is scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. will feature local talent including Broderick Daniels, Ocie Fisher, Emily Cole, and Dennis Toliver, and is touted as a fitting tribute to the history of soul music told through some of the greatest hits of Stax Records of Memphis, Tennessee, and Hitsville USA Motown of Detroit, Michigan. For additional information, visit the website at http://www.georgesmajesticlounge.com.

“The music of Motown Records was a true catalyst for change in America during the tumultuous decade of the sixties,” said Gwen Kelly, founder and Chief Events Officer for NWA Events Unlimited. “This celebration offers Northwest Arkansas residents a unique window into life during this time period, meanwhile paying homage to some of the most prolific recording artists of all time.”

“Conversations with the Music Masters,” is NWA Events Unlimited’s first foray into the music lecture circuit. It is a series of conversations with accomplished musicians and producers. Confirmed participants with additional events expected in the near future include renowned opera soprano Leona Mitchell and widow of Academy Award nominee and legendary jazz great Dexter Gordon, Mrs. Maxine Gordon.

For a comprehensive list of events, please visit us on the web at www.bmmcarkansas.com.

First Thursday Fayetteville, AR
Thursday, June 6, 2013, 5-9 p.m.
Downtown Fayetteville Square
First Friday Bentonville, AR
Friday, June 7, 2013, 5-8 p.m.
Downtown Bentonville Square
Stax/Motown Night @ George’s Majestic Lounge
Friday, June 7, 2013, 9:30 p.m.
519 W Dickson St., Fayetteville, AR 72701
For tickets, call 479-527-6618
Leona Mitchell, world-acclaimed opera soprano
Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 6:30 p.m.
Rogers Public Library
Maxine Gordon, widow of jazz saxophonist great Dexter Gordon
Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 6:30 p.m.
Rogers Public Library

This also year marks the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which heightens the momentous occasion of the 2013 Juneteenth Celebration. Local festivities will be held at Murphy Park in Springdale on Saturday, June 15 from 3:00 until 7:00 p.m. NWA Events Unlimited is planning to giveaway several gift baskets containing hair care products courtesy of Luster Products.

Black Music Month 2013 is also taking the celebration on the road this year, and planning an awesome road trip to the Great White Way in NYC from Friday, August 2 through Monday, August 5 to preview one of the hottest new shows on Broadway, “Motown: The Musical.”

Black Music Month Celebration 2013 is made possible through the contributions and support of local community organizations and area businesses including The Coca-Cola Company, Landers McLarty, Luster Products, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Visitors Bureau, and The Walmart Visitor Center.


NWA Events Unlimited is a non-profit entity of parent company Kelly & Associates whose mission is to provide a diverse range of high quality cultural activities that will:

• Encourage innovation and partnerships among community and regional organizations
• Inspire the development of arts in an array of different executions
• Provide opportunities for performing and visual arts presentations
• Foster creative and diverse programming
• Provide an environment that celebrates cultural pride among all who live, work and visit this extraordinary region called Northwest Arkansas
Phone Number: 4796294975


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