OKLAHOMA CITY (January 25, 2018) – The “Queen of Rockabilly,” Wanda Jackson, an Oklahoma City native and 1950s rockabilly music pioneer will be designated as the 13th Oklahoma Cultural Treasure on February 28 at the 2018 Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin will be joined by Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples to confer the designation. The awards ceremony will take place from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the fourth floor rotunda at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, Jackson made her mark as an influential rockabilly singer at a time when the genre was dominated by male artists. Initially a country music artist, Jackson evolved her music into rockabilly during the mid-1950s 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 1960s and 1970s 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 1980s 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.
A diverse range of female artists cite Jackson’s impact on their careers, including Rosanne Cash, Adele, Bonnie Raitt and Cyndi Lauper.
Throughout her extensive and consequential career, Jackson has remained devoted to Oklahoma.
“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.”
“Wanda Jackson has earned the honor of being named an ‘Oklahoma Cultural Treasure.’ Her talent and gritty determination led to a singing career that started from winning an Oklahoma high school talent show to being a worldwide entertainer,” said Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. “She became a legendary singer in the rockabilly music world and later expanded her unique singing style in country and gospel music. She has represented our state well and is known almost as much as being from Oklahoma as the ‘Queen of Rockabilly.’ It is a well-deserved honor for one of our most talented citizens.”
Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said, “This is an ideal time for Wanda, as a woman and as a pioneering artist in a genre that was the precursor for much of today’s popular music, to be added to the exclusive list of Oklahoma Cultural Treasures. Her extraordinary and impactful career is most deserving of this distinguished honor.”
The 2018 Governor’s Arts Awards is February 28 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the fourth floor rotunda of the Oklahoma State Capitol. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oklahoma Cultural Treasures
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. Oklahoma Cultural Treasures are:• Ed Ruscha (2015)
- Ed Ruscha (2015)
- John Hope Franklin (2004)
- Wilson Hurley (2002)
- Charles Banks Wilson (2001)
- N. Scott Momaday (1999)
- Yvonne Chouteau (1997)
- Rosella Hightower (1997)
- Moscelyne Larkin (1997)
- Maria Tallchief (1997)
- Marjorie Tallchief (1997)
- Doc Tate Nevaquaya (1995)
- Te Ata (1987)
About the Oklahoma Arts Council
The Oklahoma Arts Council is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts. The agency’s mission is to lead in the advancement of Oklahoma’s thriving arts industry. The Oklahoma Arts Council provides more than 400 grants to nearly 225 organizations in communities statewide each year, organizes professional development opportunities for the state's arts and cultural industry and manages works of art in Oklahoma Public Art Collection and the public spaces of the state Capitol. Additional information is available at arts.ok.gov.