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Charlie Christian International Music Festival celebrates 25 years

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25th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival
May 31-June 6
524-3800, www.charliechristianfestival.com

Oklahoma City's 25th annual Charlie Christian International Music Festival, is set to open at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Frederick Douglass High School Auditorium with a free live "sampler." Althea M. Millben will perform, along with Jaymes Kirksey, the Adam Ledbetter Quartet, Carl Moore & Friends and Just as I Am.

"It's going to be tremendous," said Anita G. Arnold, executive director of BLAC Inc., the festival's producer. "The program will include local artists playing traditional jazz, gospel, classical and blues, and will give people an idea of the wide range of music the festival includes this year."

The festival is named for Charlie Christian, the legendary jazz guitarist who grew up in OKC's Deep Deuce neighborhood, once the heart of the black community, and the site of jazz clubs where Christian got his start.

Scheduled festival events include an open jam session Wednesday, June 2, at the UCO Jazz Lab, hosted by the Lee Rucker Band, and a June 4 battle of the bands held at Regatta Park, that pits Tulsa native Grady Nichols and his band against Straight Ahead, an all-female quintet from Detroit.

"It's the boys against the girls," Arnold said. "It should be a lot of fun."

Also on the festival roster are a June 5 Regatta Park concert featuring Grammy-nominated smooth jazz multi-instrumentalist Najee, who has a long list of credits as both a headliner and sideman.

The festival will conclude June 6 with another varied program of gospel, jazz and blues artists, also at Regatta Park, which is located near the Chesapeake Boathouse at Lincoln Boulevard and S.E. Sixth Street.

For more information, call 524-3800 or visit www.charliechristianfestival.com. "C.G. Niebank

photo Just As I Am.

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