Nine Little Rock artists and patrons deemed by the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau as having made "a lasting impact through their contribution to the arts," as CVB President and CEO Gretchen Hall stated, are to be honored with rooms named after them in the newly renovated Robinson Auditorium. (Though the Little Rock CVB's press release announces the rooms are to be named after "nine prominent Little Rock natives," it should be noted that William Grant Still was born in Woodsville, Miss., and grew up in Little Rock. Lawrence Hamilton was born in Ashdown, Ark. and grew up in Foreman, Ark. and Stella Boyle Smith, who was born in Farmington, Miss., moved to Little Rock in 1922.)
Those individuals, named in a press conference this morning following remarks from Hall and from Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission Chair Capi Peck, are as follows:
click to enlarge
Gail Davis as Annie Oakley
Meeting Room A will be named after Gail Davis (b. 1925). Davis, an inductee into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame who starred in 32 feature films, gained fame as the pigtailed sharpshooter in the TV Western series "Annie Oakley," which ran from 1954-1956.
Meeting Room B will be named after Lawrence Hamilton (b. 1954 in Ashdown, Ark.). Hamilton, the former director of the Philander Smith College Choir, spent his career as a Broadway performer, vocal coach and music director. He performed at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II and for President Reagan at the White House.
Art Porter, Sr.
Meeting Room C will be named after Art Porter, Sr. (b. 1934) and his son Art Porter, Jr. (b. 1961). Porter, Sr., a jazz pianist who taught at Parkview High School and Philander Smith College, influenced the musical life of President Bill Clinton, who later introduced the "Art Porter Bill," which allowed underage musicians like the young Art Porter, Jr. to play in night clubs if chaperoned by a legal guardian.
Art Porter, Jr.
Meeting Room D will be named after Ben Piazza (b. 1933), the Broadway director, actor and playwright who starred in films ranging from "The Blues Brothers," "Endgame" and "The Hanging Tree," and appeared on television in episodes of "The Twilight Zone," "Gunsmoke" and "Dallas."
click to enlarge
The Grand Ballroom is to be named after Dr. William Grant Still (b.1895 in Woodville, Miss.), the composer of "The Afro-American Symphony," the first symphony written by an African-American to be performed by a major orchestra. Still also composed "Troubled Island," an opera with a libretto by Langston Hughes that was debuted by the New York City Opera in 1949.
click to enlarge
Dr. William Grant Still
The registration area outside the ballroom will commemorate the contributions of Florence Price (b. 1887), a contemporary of Still's who became the first African-American woman to write a symphony that would be performed by a major symphony orchestra, "Symphony in E Minor," performed in 1933 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
click to enlarge
The terrace that overlooks the Arkansas River is to be named after Stella Boyle Smith (b. 1893), the founder of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and of a charitable trust that provides scholarships to aspiring students of music in Arkansas.
Finally, the Patron's Lounge and VIP area adjacent to the auditorium's performance hall is to be named after Barry Travis (b. 1937), the former Little Rock CVB director who retired in 2006 after a 35-year career with the bureau.
The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau has announced its opposition to SB 346, now in shell form but intended to prohibit use of restrooms except by people born with the same gender identity. /more/
World wide weird duo Rural War Room (Donavan Suitt & Byron Werner) is celebrating 10 years of broadcasting and production here in Little Rock and abroad. RWR Radio on KABF 88.3 FM (10 p.m. Tuesdays or anytime on their website), features the duo alternating records in an effort to surprise one another.
BRASHER: Hello Arkansans, this is the first piece from us, Brasher and Rowe and we are some dudes who work in downtown Little Rock and we eat lunch and just talk about all the exciting things around here.
Ernest Dumas reaches into history, some personal, for moments in Arkansas's view of refugees. It was brought to mind by the current crisis in Europe and the political divisions over whether the U.S. should respond to the needs of the displaced.
Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.