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The annual Jazz & Blues Exhibit - Celebration at the African-American Museum, commemorates the talented black jazz and blues artists known in Fresno and the Central Valley in honor of Jazz Month and Juneteenth. This year's 2019 awardees include first Black radio station owner, Woody Miller (posthumously) and renowned blues legend, Bobby Brown.
On June 7, 1979, President Jimmy Carter decreed June to be Black Music Month.
Historically rooted in rich African traditions and the conflicted slave trade, black folk music provided the soil for jazz to grow. Other sounds began to join the chorus. From rhythm and blues to barbershop and swing, the artists responded to every era with a fresh wave of inspiration and visionary sound.
Juneteenth is a national American holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans; it would be June 19, 1865 when the official enforced announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas, and more generally throughout the former Confederacy of the southern United States would be enforced by troops going territory to territory to make sure slaves were released from these plantations.
This year's 2019 Awardees include first Black radio station owner, Woody Miller (posthumously) and renowned blues legend, Bobby Brown.
Saturday, June 15, The Jazz & Blues Exhibit - Celebration invites all of Fresno and the Central Valley to enjoy this special commemorative night from 6:00 PM -7:30 PM through tasting delicious cultural cuisines from local food vendors, dancing to rhythmic jazz and blues from local talent, and exploring local cultural arts. With over a thousand people of all ethnicities expected to attend, this event is also photographed, filmed and edited into one, two-hour shows for later viewing on ONME TV, and CMAC channels for patrons who missed the event or for attendees who want to relive the fun moments.
Awardee Woody Miller (posthumously)
Woody Miller, was one of the first African-Americans in the country to own a radio station, known as KLIP in Fowler, CA. His show The Jazz World of Woody Miller brought the sounds of artists such as Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan and Oscar Peterson, to the Fresno airwaves in the 1950’s and 60’s. Miller interviewed some of the greatest musicians in history such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Ray Charles.
Born in Dermott, AR, Miller moved to Fresno in 1935 and began his career in radio in the Central Valley; it was not easy for Miller to break into the broadcasting business in 1952 due to the blatant racism he encountered. So, he started small, working part-time in sales at radio stations KGST and KBIF in Fresno and Sacramento, becoming exceptionally so good at it, that he purchased radio station KLIP in the late 60s.
When KLIP shutdown in the late 80s’ due to the lack of financial support from the community, Miller distanced himself from radio for several years, until he co-founded and hosted a 30-min. Black talk program on public radio station KFCF in Fresno, CA, which was soon expanded to two hours and renamed “Valley Black Talk Radio”.
Later he migrated back to 90.7 FM, KFSR, in Fresno, CA exposing listeners to the hottest jazz, labeled with bits of rich history.
Miller passed away in 2017 battling his last few years with Alzheimer's disease. He is survived by his son, Michael Miller and daughter Debbie Miller.
Awardee Bobby Joe Brown
Bobby Joe Brown was born in Horatio, AR; by age 7, he started singing in church. By age 9, Brown was chaperoned throughout the state of Arkansas singing at college recitals, carnivals, fairs and talent shows, winning first place when singing solo, second place when singing with his siblings. Eventually Brown became the song leader of the state of Arkansas.
In 1953, Brown’s family moved to Madera, CA, where he attended church with Mr. Bill and Edna McCallister. They created a quartet and named it the McCalister Silvers Tones.
In 1955 Brown and his family moved to Fresno, CA joining Corinth Baptist Church under H.Y. Gordon where he became members of Singer Allowance. The group would tour to different churches to sing.
By 1961 Brown started singing R&B with two of his high school classmates, Jackie Weedley and Don Hunt. They would perform at gigs throughout the Central Valley, including the Lemoore Navy Base, and a Hanford, CA night club called the Village which aired on local television, (Channel 21.)
Brown has performed music up and down the coast of California, from Los Angeles to San Francisco: the Casablanca in Seaside CA, the Shrine Auditorium with David Ruffin, Young Hearts, and other artist, just to name a few.
In Fresno, CA, Brown has performed at many different night clubs such as the 20 Century Elk Club, The Legion, Jericho, Allen Corner, Chicken Shack, Wagner, Sugar Hill, and Fran/Papa Bear Den.
In the year 2000, Brown started the Summer Blues Fest at the Hinton Center. In his latter years to the present, Brown keeps it low key, singing at birthday parties and special engagements.