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Green Country Jazz Festival honors founder on 50th anniversary - March 6

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma) -- The Northeastern State University Department of Music will honor the founder of the Green Country Jazz Festival, Dr. Lowell Lehman, during the final concert of the 2017 festival which is set for 7:30 p.m. March 6 at the NSU Center for the Performing Arts.

Lehman began the festival in 1967 as a way to encourage high school band directors to incorporate jazz in their music programs. He said the festival is a contest first, with high school bands performing before a panel of judges who determine their playing ability.

Each year, the festival concludes with a trophy presentation and a performance by an internationally-known artist. Throughout the years, the festival has hosted well-known jazz artists such as the Count Basie Orchestra, The Buddy Rich Band, Randy Brecker, Doc Severinsen and Terri Lyne Carrington.

Lehman has been inducted into both the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame for his contribution to the NSU jazz program and the Green Country Jazz Festival. He has also been recognized by three governors, George Nigh, David Walters and Frank Keating, who each identified the Green Country Jazz Festival as one of the great programs in Oklahoma. After all these years, Lehman said he is delighted to see the festival still going after 50 years.

“There are a lot of high school bands that were developed because of this,” he said.

Gibson said the festival has created a national reputation for NSU within the jazz community.

“This festival brings internationally acclaimed artists to a rural area in Oklahoma that you would never be able to witness unless you lived in Los Angeles, or New York or Chicago,” Gibson said. “It uplifts NSU’s reputation on a nationwide basis. People in the jazz education community, and even in the jazz industry professional community, know about NSU, and they know about the NSU jazz studies program because of, in part, this jazz festival bringing such tremendous artists.”

Charles McPherson is this year’s guest artist. During the concert, the music department will honor Lehman; former NSU president Dr. Roger Webb, who is responsible for initial funding of the school’s Jazz Lab; former jazz studies director Joe Davis, who began the jazz study degree; and NSU President Dr. Steve Turner, for continued support of the jazz study program and the Green Country Jazz Festival.

Tickets for the evening performance and Judges Jam can be purchased online at, by phone at 918-458-2075 or in person weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sequoyah Institute Box Office located at 529 Seminary Ave. Tickets will also be available at the performance Box Office beginning one hour before show times.

The Charles McPherson performance is a collaborative effort between the Sequoyah Institute and the NSU Jazz Studies program. The performance is partially funded by a grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council. The Sequoyah Institute can be reached by phone at 918-458-2075.

Published: 3/6/2017 1:34:35 PM

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