Oklahoma Arts Council to Designate Wanda Jackson as Oklahoma Cultural Treasure

Wanda Jackson, America’s first female rock and roll singer and the Queen of Rockabilly, will be designated as the 13th Oklahoma Cultural Treasure at the 2018 Governor’s Arts Award Ceremony on February 28. Originally from Maud, Oklahoma, Jackson has championed a performing and recording career spanning decades and has earned top awards, hall of fame inductions and fellowships. Here in her home state she has been recognized as an inductee to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, The Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and the Rhythm and Routes Oklahoma Music Trail.

“One of the highest honors an artist can ever receive is to be honored by their home state,” Jackson said. “This means so much to me. I’ve always been proud to be from Oklahoma, that’s why I never moved away. Thank you, Oklahoma.”

Initially a country music artist, Jackson evolved her music into rockabilly during the mid-1950’s at the encouragement of Elvis Presley. Her recordings “Fujiyama Mama”, “Rock Your Baby”, “Mean Mean Man” and “Let’s Have a Party” are noted by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as among the greatest rockabilly songs ever made.

Jackson’s recordings in the 1960’s and 1970’s broadened her reach as she integrated her country music roots while expanding into the gospel music genre. She earned Grammy Award nominations in 1964 and 1970. Her return to her rockabilly roots during the 1980’s coincided with a sustained career that as recently as 2011 featured the release of an album produced by Grammy Award-winning rock artist Jack White that charted on the Billboard Hot 200, led to a performance on Late Show with David Letterman and resulted in widespread coverage by national media.

Jackson continues touring across North America, with recent and upcoming performances in cities such as Los Angeles, Toronto, New Orleans, Nashville, Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

The Governor of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Arts Council may designate an individual as an Oklahoma Cultural Treasure if that individual is considered especially precious or valuable by a particular period, class, community or population. Among the criteria for the selection are that the designee must be 70 years of age or older, be a bearer of intangible cultural assets and have outstanding artistic or historical worth.

The Governor’s Arts Award presentation will take place on February 28 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the fourth floor rotunda of the Oklahoma State Capitol, and will recognize this year’s 14 individuals and five organizations along with the Cultural Treasure presentation. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Joel Gavin, director of marketing and communications, at (405) 521-2037 or joel.gavin@arts.ok.gov.

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About the Oklahoma Film + Music Office:
Created in 1979, The Oklahoma Film + Music Office strives to share all that Oklahoma has to offer by welcoming filmmakers and music professionals to the state and by creating a network of support to develop Oklahoma’s film and music industries. For more information about the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program or the Oklahoma Film + Music Office please visit okfilmmusic.org.

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