Entries - Entry Category: Music - Starting with T

Talbot, John Michael

John Michael Talbot—the founder and leader of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage near Eureka Springs (Carroll County)—is one of the preeminent Catholic musicians in the world, with more than fifty albums to his name. He is also the founder of the Catholic Association of Musicians and the author of more than a dozen books on Christian meditations and music. John Michael Talbot was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on May 8, 1954, to Jamie Margaret (Cochran) Talbot and Richard Talbot. The family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) when Talbot was seven years old and then to Indianapolis, Indiana, two years later. Struggling to make friends in Indianapolis, the family started playing music as …

Taylor, Johnnie Harrison

Johnnie Harrison Taylor was a popular gospel and rhythm and blues singer, known as the “Philosopher of Soul,” whose recording career spanned forty-six years. His single, “Disco Lady,” was the first single ever to be certified platinum. He was added to the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999. Johnnie Taylor was born in Crawfordsville (Crittenden County) on May 5, 1934. The official date of his birth was not revealed until after his death; he had long claimed to be four years younger. The youngest of three siblings, he was raised by his grandmother in West Memphis (Crittenden County). She was religious and made sure he attended church regularly. He made his church singing debut at age six, and inspired …

Terry, Clark

Trumpeter and flugelhornist Clark Terry inspired audiences in a jazz career that spanned more than seventy years and included work with some of the biggest names in American music. Terry was one of the most recorded musicians in the history of jazz and performed for eight U.S. presidents and served as a jazz ambassador for State Department tours in the Middle East and Africa. Terry moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) in 2006 and was active in musical activities associated with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), along with mentoring music students from around the world. He died in 2015 at the age of ninety-four. Clark Terry Jr. was born on December 14, 1920, to Clark Terry Sr. …

Tharpe, “Sister Rosetta”

aka: Rosetta Nubin Tharpe
Arkansas native Rosetta Nubin Tharpe was one of gospel music’s first superstars, the first gospel performer to record for a major record label (Decca), and an early crossover from gospel to secular music. Tharpe has been cited as an influence by numerous musicians, including Bob Dylan, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Arkansan Johnny Cash. Rosetta Tharpe was born in Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) on March 20, 1915, to Katie Bell Nubin Atkins—an evangelist, singer, and mandolin player for the Church of God in Christ (COGIC)—and Willis Atkins. She went by the first names Rosa, Rosie Etta, and Rosabell, and used both her father’s last name and her mother’s maiden name, Nubin. She began performing at age four, playing guitar and singing …

Thebom, Blanche

Blanche Thebom was a world-renowned operatic soprano, opera director, and educator. With her trademark six-foot-long hair, she was among the first American opera singers to have a highly successful international career, spending more than twenty years with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She also appeared in Hollywood feature films. Thebom conducted a groundbreaking tour of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. After retirement from the Met, she brought her talents to Arkansas when she taught and directed opera productions at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) for almost a decade. The daughter of Swedish immigrants, Blanche Thebom was born in Monessen, Pennsylvania, on September 19, 1915. She was raised in Canton, …

Top of the Rock Chorus

The Top of the Rock Chorus is the Little Rock (Pulaski County) chapter of Sweet Adelines International, the female barbershop singing group. The chorus was formed on February 7, 1961, and two original members sang with Top of the Rock until 2005. The group was originally called Little Rock Chorus and was renamed Top of the Rock Chorus in the 1980s. It is composed of about sixty women—ages twenties to eighties—who rehearse weekly and compete annually against other female choruses and quartets in Region 25 (Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas), the Heart of America Region. Sweet Adelines International was formed on July 13, 1945, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A few women wanted to participate in the “chord-ringing, fun-filled harmony” that their husbands—members of …

Trammell, Bobby Lee

Bobby Lee Trammell was known as a boisterous performer of boogie-woogie-flavored rockabilly music with such songs as “Arkansas Twist” and “You Mostest Girl.” He was later elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives and the Craighead County Quorum Court. Trammell’s high-energy music has been compared to that of fellow Arkansan Sonny Burgess, while his onstage antics drew comparisons to Jerry Lee Lewis. Bobby Lee Trammell was born on January 31, 1934, in Hergett, a small unincorporated community in Craighead County near Jonesboro. He was one of four children born to Wiley and Mae Trammell, who were cotton farmers. His parents were also musicians, with his father playing fiddle and his mother playing the church organ. Trammell was exposed to gospel …

Trent, Alphonso E. “Phonnie”

Alphonso E. “Phonnie” Trent was a nationally renowned jazz pianist and “territory” band leader from Fort Smith (Sebastian County). (“Territory” bands were those that traveled outside the large eastern markets, such as New York City.) He led the Alphonso Trent Orchestra, a group of young African-American musicians who toured the country, made several recordings, and had a lengthy engagement at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, Texas. During that engagement, the band became the first group of black musicians to be featured on regional broadcasts over WFAA radio in Dallas. Alphonso Trent was born in Fort Smith on October 24, 1902, the son of E. O. Trent and Hattie S. Smith. Trent’s father was one of the first African-American graduates of Ohio State University. …

Trout Fishing in America

Trout Fishing in America (TFIA), based in northwestern Arkansas, is a musical performance duo consisting of Keith Grimwood, who plays bass and sings, and Ezra Idlet, who sings and plays acoustic guitar and banjo. The name of the duo comes from the seminal 1960s experimental novella by Richard Brautigan. Trout Fishing in America has been nominated for four Grammys and has released more than twenty albums. Grimwood has been a bass player since the age of eleven. He earned a degree in music from the University of Houston and performed with the Houston Symphony. Idlet, a guitarist since the age of fourteen, performed as a strolling musician at a Houston dinner theater. The two met as members of the Houston-based …

Twitty, Conway

aka: Harold Lloyd Jenkins
A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Conway Twitty has sold over 50 million records. Twitty had anywhere from forty-one to fifty-three No. 1 singles on the country and rock charts, depending upon the industry source used. He recorded 110 albums. Harold Lloyd Jenkins was born on September 1, 1933, in Friars Point, Mississippi, and was named after the famous silent film actor, Harold Lloyd. Jenkins had an older brother and sister. He was given his first guitar at age four. The family moved to Helena (Phillips County)—now Helena-West Helena—when Jenkins was ten, and soon thereafter, he formed his first band, the Phillips County Ramblers. His father worked off and on as a Mississippi riverboat captain, though his …

Tyler, T. Texas

aka: David Luke Myrick
T. Texas Tyler, the charismatic Arkansas native with a growling voice, initiated a distinctive country and western musical style that made him a success in the recording industry and on stage in the 1940s, 1950s, and into the 1960s. He pioneered a storytelling style in which the performer spoke some or all of the lyrics, later employed by other country stars such as “Red” Sovine, Jimmy Dean, “Whispering” Bill Anderson, and others. Tex Ritter, one of Tyler’s contemporaries, often referred to the influence Tyler’s style had on him. Tyler was born David Luke Myrick in Mena (Polk County) on June 20, 1916. His parents were James E. Myrick and Ida Bell Cagle Myrick. He was the youngest of three brothers. His …