Arkansas Music

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a pioneering gospel singer and guitar player from Arkansas, will be among the 2018 inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was born in the Woodruff County town of Cotton Plant in 1915 and achieved fame in the 1930s.  Tharpe was among six acts announced Wednesday for next year's induction ceremony and will be honored in the category Early Influences. 

Stephen Koch, host of the weekly feature Arkansongs, says given her influence, it’s an honor long overdue. He spoke with KUAR during All Things Considered.

M. E. Kubit

Listen To The Interview 

Hot Springs singer songwriter Ryan Sauders and guitarist Keith West  sat down with J. Bradley Minnick, host of KUAR's Arts & Letters, to discuss a very difficult subject: suicide of loved ones and how it permeates much of Ryan's lyrics and music.

The Johnny Cash Heritage Festival in Dyess takes place Thursday through Saturday, October 19-21.  In this interview, KASU News Director Johnathan Reaves talks with the Director of the Arkansas State University Heritage Sites Dr. Ruth Hawkins to learn why this year's celebration of Johnny Cash turned from just a music festival to more of a symposium/music festival.  Click on the Listen button to hear more.  

A concert in Little Rock, from a musician at the top of his field, has been cancelled under pressure from Mayor Mark Stodola. The incumbent mayor worried that a concert held by the rapper from Memphis posed too much risk to public safety.

Ellis “CeDell” Davis, an Arkansas blues musician known for his slide guitar playing, died Wednesday night at the age of 91. The Helena native and long-time Pine Bluff resident had been in and out of hospitals in recent weeks due to heart related complications. Health problems dogged him throughout his life but also gave birth to the sound for which he became known.

Rockabilly Pioneer Sonny Burgess Dies In Arkansas At 88

Aug 21, 2017
Sonny Burgess
Colinedward828 / Wikimedia Commons

When Henry Boyce entered kindergarten, he instantly befriended a boy named Payton. The two rode bikes, went fishing, and on occasion stayed the night together.

Hidden within Payton’s house was an array of expensive musical instruments and equipment. Payton’s father, Sonny Burgess, didn’t allow the boys to play with the equipment. Burgess didn’t play music in those days, but Boyce knew he was a musician. He saw his name on records in their house.

What's The Skinny

Jul 28, 2017

A decisive early Friday vote on a GOP-led Obamacare "skinny" repeal comes up short. Why Arkansas's Senators voted for the failed measure amidst evidence that state public opinion may not be quite on their side.

Levon Helm
Kevin Kresse

A fundraising campaign has been launched to create a permanent memorial in east Arkansas for Levon Helm. The legendary drummer and singer, who was best known for his work with The Band, grew up in the Phillips County community of Turkey Scratch, helping his family pick cotton.

Plans are to finish restoring the sharecropper's house his family lived in, which has been moved to the nearby town of Marvell. A statue of Helm is also to be completed and placed downtown.

Riverfest Morris Day and the Time
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Little Rock's annual music festival, Riverfest, is suspending operations after four decades.

The Riverfest, Inc., board of directors announced Tuesday that 2017 was the last year for the music festival in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. The festival's executive director, DeAnna Korte, says rising costs and more competition from other festivals made it difficult for Riverfest to continue.

Korte says hot and rainy weather in May and June also affected Riverfest's ability to be successful.

The Pulaski County Quorum Court meets in a building on South Broadway.
Google Earth

A push in Pulaski County to temporarily bar certain musical performances if a city deemed its content to encourage violence fell flat in a Quorum Court meeting Tuesday night. Justice of the Peace Judy Green of central Little Rock believes going to certain rap concerts can encourage people to be violent. The proposal was a response to the shootout at Power Ultra Lounge earlier this month. 

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