News Column

Induction concert draws 2,400

October 16, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 16--TULSA -- Boots were tapping and hands were clapping as Muskogee's Swon Brothers took the stage for the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame induction concert Tuesday.

The crowd roared as the country duo, named Rising Stars by OMHOF, took the stage at Tulsa's Mabee Center.

For the first time in its 16-year history, the Hall of Fame's induction concert was held outside of Muskogee.

Now in its 40th year as the iconic stadium at Oral Roberts University, the Mabee Center is a prospective site for future shows.

"I hope we'll have more here and a few more in Muskogee," said Jim Blair, Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame executive director.

About 2,400 attended Tuesday's concert, which is up from the 2011 induction attendance of about 1,500, Blair said. Moving the concert to Mabee allows more people to attend the concert, he said.

One of the highlights, Blair said, is bringing together an eclectic mix of Oklahoma musicians.

"The diversity in this show is incredible," he said, adding that Oklahoma music is "not just country and western, but more."

Including the Swon Brothers, five Oklahoma musicians brought a variety of tastes to the crowd.

Nine musicians and the Mabee Center were inducted into OMHOF during a ceremony Monday in Muskogee.

Opera singer Barbara McAlister started the show. She was joined on by the Cherokee Nation Youth Choir and Muskogee A Capella group.

McAlister, who lives in Muskogee, sang five songs -- including "Climb Every Mountain" from the musical "The Sound of Music" -- to loud applause from the crowd.

"I thought she was magnificent," said Tanya Turner, of Tahlequah. "I had heard her sing before."

Jennifer Neely of Muskogee said she hadn't heard McAlister sing since she was a little girl. Neely said her mother described McAlister's voice as "like velvet" and the description remains true.

Guitarist Mason Williams, who grew up in Oklahoma City, brought with him a string quartet and percussionist Barry Patton. He played for about 20 minutes and got the crowd swaying when he played his Grammy Award-winning song "Classical Gas."

Country singer and Wellston native Norma Jean got the crowd clapping with "Company's Comin'." Jean is known for her time spent on "The Porter Wagoner Show" in the 1960s.

"Being on this stage is a long way coming from when I was a little girl growing up in Wellston," Jean said during her performance.

Pianist and Elk City native Jimmy Webb entertained the crowd with his play and wit. He got the crowd to sing along during his 1967 hit "Up, Up, and Away," but joked "I just can't seem to get up there anymore" when it came to the high notes.

The Swon Brothers, the Muskogee country duo of Zach and Colton Swon, who became famous for the fourth-place finish on the NBC's "The Voice" this year, capped the show.

They put their spin on country music hits such as "How Country Feels," "Fishin' in the Dark" and "Rock Me Mama."

Prior to taking the stage, Mabee Center General Manager Tony Winters was presented with the center's induction plaque.

"We love everything the Oklahoma Music Hall off Fame stands for in Muskogee," he said. "It does so much for music in Oklahoma."

Oklahomans inducted Monday night were singer Sandi Patty, Journey guitarist Neal Schon, late jazz musician Bob Dunn and the late Roger Davis, who designed OMHOF's posters before dying earlier this year.

Reach Thad Ayers at (918) 684-2903 or tayers@muskogeephoenix.com.

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(c)2013 the Muskogee Phoenix (Muskogee, Okla.)

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