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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Doc Tomato performs at Louis Jordan Tribute, 1998
Doc Tomato performs Louis Jordan hit "Let the Good Times Roll" at the Louis Jordan Tribute, 1998 Photo: Jeff Ward

Tribute to Louis Jordan

Few people have been more influential in creating the indigenous, uniquely-American musical styles as Brinkley-Arkansas born Louis Jordan. Jordan (1908-1975) is considered the father of rhythm & blues, rock 'n roll, and even rap by those who should know. Ray Charles, B.B. King, Chuck Berry and James Brown, among many others, acknowledge Jordan's profound influence, even if the general public does not recognize it.

Between 1942 and 1951, Jordan logged 55 top-ten chart hits. He starred in his own short music films a half-century before what we now call "music videos" were introduced. He had a handful of Calypso hits before Harry Belafonte became known for his, and was rapping over a rhythmic beat decades before the first contemporary rappers were born.

Though never overtly political, Jordan took quiet stands against segregation, and, when he appeared on WBAY-TV, was the first Negro to appear as a guest star on any established program in Florida. In the early 1950s, he helped to break the color lines in the venues of Reno and Las Vegas.

Every year since 1997, the AR Artists' Consortium holds a Louis Jordan Tribute in Little Rock to honor the legacy and spirit of Jordan through a concert and conference featuring performance, film, lecture, and the visual arts. This has given the public the ability to see the timelessness of Jordan's music.

Originally submitted by: Vic Snyder, Representative (2nd District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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