By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
Monday’s Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony seemed more like a chatty get-together than a formal reception at times.
Friends shared stories and jokes about the inductees. And some inductees at the ceremony had their own stories to tell.
Seven musicians and an event center are being inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame for 2013.
Inductees will perform at 7 p.m. today at the Mabee Center. The concert also will feature Muskogee’s Swon Brothers, who were honored as OMHOF Rising Stars.
Classical pianist Tim Long talked about how opera singer Barbara McAlister used to tell stories that he said could put him to sleep.
Long, who also is of Native American descent, said “we met because of our Indian-ness 25 years ago.
“Barbara is a very proud Muskogee native,” Long said as he presented McAlister’s award to her. “She always brought her Cherokee heritage wherever she went.”
McAlister took that heritage to opera houses in Santa Fe, San Diego, Hong Kong, New York City and Germany, he said.
“Barbara symbolizes the spirit of survival that brought us from 1492 to 2013,” Long said.
McAlister recalled her youth, when she “fell in love with the art of singing.”
She said she started singing at age 13 and recalled listening to her father play the piano.
Upon receiving her award, McAlister said there are “so many people to thank.”
“Support the arts, love your neighbor and remember, music is the universal language,” she said. “God bless Muskogee, the town that I love.”
McAlister now lives in Muskogee, where she attends First Presbyterian Church. Her pastor, the Rev. Ann Brizendine, said McAlister is “warm and genuine.”
“It is indicative of Barbara that she will spotlight other Muskogee talent at the concert,” Brizendine said.
McAlister said she will perform tonight with the Muskogee A Capella group, a Muskogee brass ensemble and a Cherokee youth choir.
The late Bob Dunn of Braggs was honored for pioneering the electric steel guitar. That’s the instrument that lends the twang to many country songs.
Dunn’s nephew, Tim Dunn of Muskogee, recalled his uncle’s influence.
“He used to come over when we were kids, and him and Dad would get their guitars out,” Dunn said. “He liked fishing. He always brought pictures of him fishing in the Gulf. We’re all proud of him.”
The late Roger Davis, a Muskogee artist who painted most of the past OMHOF inductees, was named the recipient of the Governor’s Award.
State Sen. Earl Garrison said Davis’ pictures “makes the inductees come alive.”
“It’s like you can talk to Merle Haggard,” Garrison said, pointing to a Davis portrait of Haggard.
Davis’ widow, Ann Boos Davis, tearfully accepted the award.
“For an artist to be brave and blessed enough to live his dream is rare,” she said. “This hall is a legacy to his passion. Awards and accolades would never have crossed his mind, he was such a humble man.”
Fiddler Byron Berline presented an award to “Classical Gas” guitarist Mason Williams. Berline recalled the hundreds of concerts he and Williams performed.
Williams, who also wrote for television’s “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” said he was delighted to be back home in Oklahoma.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
WHAT: Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame 2013 Inductees and The Swon Brothers Concert.
WHEN: 7 p.m. today.
WHERE: Mabee Center, Tulsa.
• Opera singer Barbara McAlister.
• Country singer Norma Jean.
• “Classical Gas” guitarist Mason Williams.
• Composer Jimmy Webb.
• Electric steel guitar pioneer Bob Dunn.
• The Mabee Center.
• Gospel star Sandi Patty.
TICKETS: At Mabee Center box office, (918) 495-6000 or by calling (800) 678-1353.