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Voices of Oklahoma

Voices of Oklahoma

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Voices of Oklahoma
Voices of Oklahoma

Voices of Oklahoma

Voices of Oklahoma

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Voices of Oklahoma.com is dedicated to the preservation of the oral history of Oklahoma. Voices and stories of famous Oklahomans and ordinary citizens are captured forever in their own words. Oil and gas, ranching, politics, education and more are all visited in these far-ranging interviews. Students researching any of these areas can listen to first-person accounts of the way life was and draw from knowledge that may guide and shape their future. In addition to students, any visitor will feel close to history as they listen to these personal reflections.

Latest Episodes

Henry Kravis

Tulsa native Henry R. Kravis co-founded the global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and is the Co-Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer. The firm pioneered the development of the management buyout. The Kravis name is embedded in Tulsa, Oklahoma history. Philbrook Museum of Art’s Kravis Wing was named in honor of Henry’s father, Raymond F. Kravis, and Gilcrease Museum houses the Kravis Discovery Center. Henry’s mother, Bessie Roberts Kravis, was founder of the Tulsa Urban League, a member of the Tulsa Jewish Federation, and a promoter of the arts. Raymond F. Kravis was an oil and gas consultant and philanthropist. He was a board member of the St. John Medical Center foundation and was on the executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America. Radio station KRAV FM was founded by his brother George Kravis, who died in February 2018. Drawing on the example of his parents, Henry Kravis is known as a major New York City philanthropist for several cultural and educational institutions.

54 MIN2 weeks ago
Comments
Henry Kravis

Wanda Jackson

Wanda Jackson was only halfway through high school when, in 1954, country singer Hank Thompson heard her on an Oklahoma City radio show and asked her to record with his band, the Brazos Valley Boys. By the end of the decade, Jackson had become one of America’s first major female country and rockabilly singers.Jackson was born in Maud, Oklahoma, but her father Tom – himself a country singer who quit because of the Depression – moved the family to California in 1941. He bought Wanda her first guitar two years later, gave her lessons and encouraged her to play piano as well. In addition, he took her to see such acts as Tex Williams, Spade Cooley and Bob Wills, which left a lasting impression on her young mind. Tom moved the family back to Oklahoma City when his daughter was 12 years old. In 1952, she won a local talent contest and was given a 15-minute daily show on KLPR. The program, soon upped to 30 minutes, lasted throughout Jackson’s high-school years. It’s here that Thompson heard her sing. Jackson recorded several songs with the Brazos Valley Boys, including “You Can’t Have My Love,” a duet with Thompson’s bandleader, Billy Gray. The song, on the Decca label, became a national hit, and Jackson’s career was off and running.When Jackson first toured in 1955 and 1956, she was placed on a bill with none other than Elvis Presley. The two hit it off almost immediately. Jackson said it was Presley, along with her father, who encouraged her to sing rockabilly.Jackson cut the rockabilly hit “Fujiyama Mama” in 1958, which became a major success in Japan. Her version of “Let’s Have a Party,” which Elvis had cut earlier, was a U.S. Top 40 pop hit for her in 1960, after which she began calling her band the Party Timers. A year later, she was back in the country Top Ten with “Right or Wrong” and “In the Middle of a Heartache.” In 1965, she topped the German charts with “Santa Domingo,” sung in German. In 1966, she hit the U.S. Top 20 with “The Box It Came In” and “Tears Will Be the Chaser for Your Wine.” Jackson’s popularity continued through the end of the decade.Jackson toured regularly, was twice nominated for a Grammy, and was a big attraction in Las Vegas from the mid-’50s into the ’70s. She married IBM programmer Wendell Goodman in 1961, and instead of quitting the business – as many women singers had done at the time – Goodman gave up his job in order to manage his wife’s career. In 1971, Jackson and her husband became Christians, which she says saved their marriage. She released one gospel album on Capitol in 1972, “Praise the Lord”, before shifting to the Myrrh label for three more gospel albums. In 1977, she switched again, this time to Word Records, and released another two.In the early 1980s, Jackson was invited to Europe to play rockabilly and country festivals and to record. More recently, American country artists Pam Tillis, Jann Browne, and Rosie Flores have acknowledged Jackson as a major influence. Jackson embarked on a major U.S. tour with Flores in 1995. Jackson returned to the studio in 2010 to begin work on a new album. “The Party Ain’t Over” arrived in early 2011 and while in her seventies she was still touring in 2012.

101 MIN2 weeks ago
Comments
Wanda Jackson

T. Boone Pickens

Hard work, intuition and the nerve to take a chance describe T. Boone Pickens. A household name to the nation, Pickens is first an Oklahoman. His story ranges from earning a penny a paper as a young boy to making millions, and then billions. And then major losses. Many counted him out. But Pickens was far from out.His modest upbringing provided the background for a work ethic that turned his remaining investment funds of $3 million into $8 billion in profit in just a few years. In 2008 The Pickens Plan was announced, designed to break America’s dependency on foreign oil. Boone invested $62 million to get the attention of the nation. And in 2010, America and Boone are waiting for a national energy plan. Pickens’ gift to his alma mater, Oklahoma State University remains the largest donation to a university’s athletic program in collegiate history. His total contributions to OSU amount to more than $400 million. Major academic gifts have also been made to the school, particularly to...

73 MINSEP 13
Comments
T. Boone Pickens

Dr Bruce Howell

Dr. Bruce Howell’s career as an educator began in a one room country school in Southwest Iowa when he was 18 years old. Over the next forty-two years he was a teacher, coach, Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools twice, and Dean of the College of Education at the University of Tulsa.During his first term at TPS from 1973-1976, he played a role in desegregation and developed magnet programs. During his second term, 1990-1993, he led in the passage of bond issues, decentralized administration for more site-based management, and established both the Mayo Demonstration School and Eisenhower International School.In 1969 Bruce heard Tulsa Tribune publisher/editor and historian, Jenkin Lloyd Jones, make a history presentation that he never forgot. And so, upon retiring as an educator, he took up the role of historian for Northeast Oklahoma. His books include: 1806: Settling the Cherokee Nation, Pathfinders: 19th Century Pioneers of Cherokee Territory, and Cherokee Echoes: Tales of Northe...

80 MINSEP 12
Comments
Dr Bruce Howell

Enoch Kelly Haney

The only full blood American Indian to serve in the Oklahoma Legislature, Enoch Kelly Haney was elected as a state legislator and a senator. He became the Vice Chair of Appropriations his second term in the House before becoming the Chairman of the Appropriations committee in the Oklahoma State Senate. After over twenty years in the state legislature from 1980 to 2002, Kelly became the Principal Chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma in 2005 and served a four-year term.Kelly Haney is an internationally recognized artist who has exhibited throughout the United States, England, Austria, and Asia and has received the title of Master Artist of the Five Civilized Tribes. In addition to decades of success as a painter, Kelly became the creator of the 22-foot bronze sculpture, The Guardian, that was chosen to top the Oklahoma State Capitol Dome. He was also commissioned to create the Chickasaw Warrior at the Chickasaw Nation Headquarters in Ada, Oklahoma. This comes from an artist who wa...

98 MINSEP 4
Comments
Enoch Kelly Haney

Wes Watkins

Congressman Wes Watkins was raised on a small cattle and peanut farm near Bennington in southeast Oklahoma. As a young boy, Watkins was involved in 4-H and FFA and later became state FFA president. Wes found time for leadership positions in school despite working three part-time jobs, playing basketball and baseball, and earning the title of salutatorian of his graduating class.Wes’s determination and success followed him to Oklahoma State University, where he worked on the college farm and lived in a converted chicken house. Wes again showed his leadership skills as president of the OSU student body. He was an honor student and selected as the Outstanding Agriculture Senior. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Agricultural Education from Oklahoma State University.In 1974, Wes was first elected to public office when he won a seat in the Oklahoma State Senate. Two years later, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He ran for governor in 1990 and 1994. In 19...

93 MINAUG 29
Comments
Wes Watkins

Wess Young

Wessley Hubert “Wess” Young Sr., was a Tulsa Race Massacre survivor, World War II veteran and longtime Tulsa activist.Wess was four years old in 1921, when he, his mother and older sister were told to run for cover during the devastation. His family lost everything in the Tulsa Race Massacre and lived in a camp at the fairgrounds for months. Since Wess was so young in May and June of 1921, his memory is filled with the stories told to him by his parents and relatives. Wess traveled around the country during his life speaking about the event.Along with fellow survivors, Wess gave his personal account of the historic race massacre at a briefing before members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other leaders on Capitol hill, May 10, 2005, in Washington.He was founder and first president of the Brady Heights Neighborhood Association, and served on numerous municipal boards, including ones involving city planning and criminal justice.Wess was 93 years old, August 21, 2009, when he r...

48 MINAUG 19
Comments
Wess Young

Jana Jae

Musical talent runs through the family of Jan Jae. Her parents studied at the famed Juilliard School of Music in New York, and Jana was introduced to the classical study of the violin, on an eighth-size instrument, at the age of two. Then, thanks to the direction and inspiration of her grandfather–an accomplished champion fiddler in his own right–Jana also learned to love playing by ear. She honed her skill of fiddling into a fine art and won the Ladies National Championship several times. She also continued her classical training, winning scholarships to Interlochen and the International String Congress. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in music and studied abroad at the Vienna Academy of Music.Jana got her big break at a Buck Owens concert in Redding, California when she was invited to play “Orange Blossom Special.” Buck offered her a job as the first female member of his Buckaroos band. She later became part of the regular team of performers on the television show ...

96 MINAUG 3
Comments
Jana Jae

Sam P Daniel

Longtime lawyer and nature preservationist Sam P. Daniel died July 14, 2019. While living in Oklahoma City during his grade school days, Sam P. Daniel was a neighbor of Federal Judge Alfred P. Murrah. Sam’s parents traveled frequently, so he spent many nights at the Murrah home. Sam loved the judge like a father and decided at an early age to follow in his footsteps. It was the Alfred P Murrah federal building that was the target of theOklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. Sam graduated from the University of Oklahoma law school and eventually joined the law firm of Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson. Sam had more than 50 years of experience in matters of oil & gas law, family law and general civil litigation. He enjoyed fly-fishing and bird hunting for many years. His collection of 37 species of North American migratory waterfowl, each one hunted by Sam, is on display at Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve near Bartlesville. His many honors include the Nature Works Wildlife...

69 MINJUL 18
Comments
Sam P Daniel

Astronaut Bill Pogue

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon, Oklahomans should know that a young man who was born in Okemah, Oklahoma and grew up in Sand Springs was on the support crew for Apollo 11. The support crew maintained the flight plan, checklists and developed procedures for emergency situations for the prime and backup crews. The support crew consisted of Ken Mattingly, Ronald Evans and Bill Pogue. Bill Pogue was ten years old while standing in an Oklahoma cotton field when he observed a DC-2 fly over and at that moment he “got the urge to be a pilot”.Of course, the prime crew for Apollo 11 consisted of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, along with Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. In chapter nine of our oral history interview with Bill Pogue, Bill talked about his relationship with Neil Armstrong.You can hear Bill’s story from his days in Sand Springs, to a combat tour in Korea, his life with the Thunderbirds and his selection to be on the support crews for...

88 MINJUL 18
Comments
Astronaut Bill Pogue

Latest Episodes

Henry Kravis

Tulsa native Henry R. Kravis co-founded the global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and is the Co-Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer. The firm pioneered the development of the management buyout. The Kravis name is embedded in Tulsa, Oklahoma history. Philbrook Museum of Art’s Kravis Wing was named in honor of Henry’s father, Raymond F. Kravis, and Gilcrease Museum houses the Kravis Discovery Center. Henry’s mother, Bessie Roberts Kravis, was founder of the Tulsa Urban League, a member of the Tulsa Jewish Federation, and a promoter of the arts. Raymond F. Kravis was an oil and gas consultant and philanthropist. He was a board member of the St. John Medical Center foundation and was on the executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America. Radio station KRAV FM was founded by his brother George Kravis, who died in February 2018. Drawing on the example of his parents, Henry Kravis is known as a major New York City philanthropist for several cultural and educational institutions.

54 MIN2 weeks ago
Comments
Henry Kravis

Wanda Jackson

Wanda Jackson was only halfway through high school when, in 1954, country singer Hank Thompson heard her on an Oklahoma City radio show and asked her to record with his band, the Brazos Valley Boys. By the end of the decade, Jackson had become one of America’s first major female country and rockabilly singers.Jackson was born in Maud, Oklahoma, but her father Tom – himself a country singer who quit because of the Depression – moved the family to California in 1941. He bought Wanda her first guitar two years later, gave her lessons and encouraged her to play piano as well. In addition, he took her to see such acts as Tex Williams, Spade Cooley and Bob Wills, which left a lasting impression on her young mind. Tom moved the family back to Oklahoma City when his daughter was 12 years old. In 1952, she won a local talent contest and was given a 15-minute daily show on KLPR. The program, soon upped to 30 minutes, lasted throughout Jackson’s high-school years. It’s here that Thompson heard her sing. Jackson recorded several songs with the Brazos Valley Boys, including “You Can’t Have My Love,” a duet with Thompson’s bandleader, Billy Gray. The song, on the Decca label, became a national hit, and Jackson’s career was off and running.When Jackson first toured in 1955 and 1956, she was placed on a bill with none other than Elvis Presley. The two hit it off almost immediately. Jackson said it was Presley, along with her father, who encouraged her to sing rockabilly.Jackson cut the rockabilly hit “Fujiyama Mama” in 1958, which became a major success in Japan. Her version of “Let’s Have a Party,” which Elvis had cut earlier, was a U.S. Top 40 pop hit for her in 1960, after which she began calling her band the Party Timers. A year later, she was back in the country Top Ten with “Right or Wrong” and “In the Middle of a Heartache.” In 1965, she topped the German charts with “Santa Domingo,” sung in German. In 1966, she hit the U.S. Top 20 with “The Box It Came In” and “Tears Will Be the Chaser for Your Wine.” Jackson’s popularity continued through the end of the decade.Jackson toured regularly, was twice nominated for a Grammy, and was a big attraction in Las Vegas from the mid-’50s into the ’70s. She married IBM programmer Wendell Goodman in 1961, and instead of quitting the business – as many women singers had done at the time – Goodman gave up his job in order to manage his wife’s career. In 1971, Jackson and her husband became Christians, which she says saved their marriage. She released one gospel album on Capitol in 1972, “Praise the Lord”, before shifting to the Myrrh label for three more gospel albums. In 1977, she switched again, this time to Word Records, and released another two.In the early 1980s, Jackson was invited to Europe to play rockabilly and country festivals and to record. More recently, American country artists Pam Tillis, Jann Browne, and Rosie Flores have acknowledged Jackson as a major influence. Jackson embarked on a major U.S. tour with Flores in 1995. Jackson returned to the studio in 2010 to begin work on a new album. “The Party Ain’t Over” arrived in early 2011 and while in her seventies she was still touring in 2012.

101 MIN2 weeks ago
Comments
Wanda Jackson

T. Boone Pickens

Hard work, intuition and the nerve to take a chance describe T. Boone Pickens. A household name to the nation, Pickens is first an Oklahoman. His story ranges from earning a penny a paper as a young boy to making millions, and then billions. And then major losses. Many counted him out. But Pickens was far from out.His modest upbringing provided the background for a work ethic that turned his remaining investment funds of $3 million into $8 billion in profit in just a few years. In 2008 The Pickens Plan was announced, designed to break America’s dependency on foreign oil. Boone invested $62 million to get the attention of the nation. And in 2010, America and Boone are waiting for a national energy plan. Pickens’ gift to his alma mater, Oklahoma State University remains the largest donation to a university’s athletic program in collegiate history. His total contributions to OSU amount to more than $400 million. Major academic gifts have also been made to the school, particularly to...

73 MINSEP 13
Comments
T. Boone Pickens

Dr Bruce Howell

Dr. Bruce Howell’s career as an educator began in a one room country school in Southwest Iowa when he was 18 years old. Over the next forty-two years he was a teacher, coach, Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools twice, and Dean of the College of Education at the University of Tulsa.During his first term at TPS from 1973-1976, he played a role in desegregation and developed magnet programs. During his second term, 1990-1993, he led in the passage of bond issues, decentralized administration for more site-based management, and established both the Mayo Demonstration School and Eisenhower International School.In 1969 Bruce heard Tulsa Tribune publisher/editor and historian, Jenkin Lloyd Jones, make a history presentation that he never forgot. And so, upon retiring as an educator, he took up the role of historian for Northeast Oklahoma. His books include: 1806: Settling the Cherokee Nation, Pathfinders: 19th Century Pioneers of Cherokee Territory, and Cherokee Echoes: Tales of Northe...

80 MINSEP 12
Comments
Dr Bruce Howell

Enoch Kelly Haney

The only full blood American Indian to serve in the Oklahoma Legislature, Enoch Kelly Haney was elected as a state legislator and a senator. He became the Vice Chair of Appropriations his second term in the House before becoming the Chairman of the Appropriations committee in the Oklahoma State Senate. After over twenty years in the state legislature from 1980 to 2002, Kelly became the Principal Chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma in 2005 and served a four-year term.Kelly Haney is an internationally recognized artist who has exhibited throughout the United States, England, Austria, and Asia and has received the title of Master Artist of the Five Civilized Tribes. In addition to decades of success as a painter, Kelly became the creator of the 22-foot bronze sculpture, The Guardian, that was chosen to top the Oklahoma State Capitol Dome. He was also commissioned to create the Chickasaw Warrior at the Chickasaw Nation Headquarters in Ada, Oklahoma. This comes from an artist who wa...

98 MINSEP 4
Comments
Enoch Kelly Haney

Wes Watkins

Congressman Wes Watkins was raised on a small cattle and peanut farm near Bennington in southeast Oklahoma. As a young boy, Watkins was involved in 4-H and FFA and later became state FFA president. Wes found time for leadership positions in school despite working three part-time jobs, playing basketball and baseball, and earning the title of salutatorian of his graduating class.Wes’s determination and success followed him to Oklahoma State University, where he worked on the college farm and lived in a converted chicken house. Wes again showed his leadership skills as president of the OSU student body. He was an honor student and selected as the Outstanding Agriculture Senior. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Agricultural Education from Oklahoma State University.In 1974, Wes was first elected to public office when he won a seat in the Oklahoma State Senate. Two years later, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He ran for governor in 1990 and 1994. In 19...

93 MINAUG 29
Comments
Wes Watkins

Wess Young

Wessley Hubert “Wess” Young Sr., was a Tulsa Race Massacre survivor, World War II veteran and longtime Tulsa activist.Wess was four years old in 1921, when he, his mother and older sister were told to run for cover during the devastation. His family lost everything in the Tulsa Race Massacre and lived in a camp at the fairgrounds for months. Since Wess was so young in May and June of 1921, his memory is filled with the stories told to him by his parents and relatives. Wess traveled around the country during his life speaking about the event.Along with fellow survivors, Wess gave his personal account of the historic race massacre at a briefing before members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other leaders on Capitol hill, May 10, 2005, in Washington.He was founder and first president of the Brady Heights Neighborhood Association, and served on numerous municipal boards, including ones involving city planning and criminal justice.Wess was 93 years old, August 21, 2009, when he r...

48 MINAUG 19
Comments
Wess Young

Jana Jae

Musical talent runs through the family of Jan Jae. Her parents studied at the famed Juilliard School of Music in New York, and Jana was introduced to the classical study of the violin, on an eighth-size instrument, at the age of two. Then, thanks to the direction and inspiration of her grandfather–an accomplished champion fiddler in his own right–Jana also learned to love playing by ear. She honed her skill of fiddling into a fine art and won the Ladies National Championship several times. She also continued her classical training, winning scholarships to Interlochen and the International String Congress. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in music and studied abroad at the Vienna Academy of Music.Jana got her big break at a Buck Owens concert in Redding, California when she was invited to play “Orange Blossom Special.” Buck offered her a job as the first female member of his Buckaroos band. She later became part of the regular team of performers on the television show ...

96 MINAUG 3
Comments
Jana Jae

Sam P Daniel

Longtime lawyer and nature preservationist Sam P. Daniel died July 14, 2019. While living in Oklahoma City during his grade school days, Sam P. Daniel was a neighbor of Federal Judge Alfred P. Murrah. Sam’s parents traveled frequently, so he spent many nights at the Murrah home. Sam loved the judge like a father and decided at an early age to follow in his footsteps. It was the Alfred P Murrah federal building that was the target of theOklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. Sam graduated from the University of Oklahoma law school and eventually joined the law firm of Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson. Sam had more than 50 years of experience in matters of oil & gas law, family law and general civil litigation. He enjoyed fly-fishing and bird hunting for many years. His collection of 37 species of North American migratory waterfowl, each one hunted by Sam, is on display at Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve near Bartlesville. His many honors include the Nature Works Wildlife...

69 MINJUL 18
Comments
Sam P Daniel

Astronaut Bill Pogue

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon, Oklahomans should know that a young man who was born in Okemah, Oklahoma and grew up in Sand Springs was on the support crew for Apollo 11. The support crew maintained the flight plan, checklists and developed procedures for emergency situations for the prime and backup crews. The support crew consisted of Ken Mattingly, Ronald Evans and Bill Pogue. Bill Pogue was ten years old while standing in an Oklahoma cotton field when he observed a DC-2 fly over and at that moment he “got the urge to be a pilot”.Of course, the prime crew for Apollo 11 consisted of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, along with Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. In chapter nine of our oral history interview with Bill Pogue, Bill talked about his relationship with Neil Armstrong.You can hear Bill’s story from his days in Sand Springs, to a combat tour in Korea, his life with the Thunderbirds and his selection to be on the support crews for...

88 MINJUL 18
Comments
Astronaut Bill Pogue