Stephens County has artists in abundance. To recognize those talents and contributions, the Arts Hall of Fame (AHoF) is preparing for the inaugural January 2019 show.
Martha Burger, chairperson of the AHoF board, said the seed for the project was planted by Ed Apple.
“Ed Apple approached me that Duncan needed to establish a music hall of fame. He named David Hooten and David Briscoe and others,” she said. “He mentioned this to me on more than one occasion. At about the same time, I was working on the Membership and Marketing Committee of the Simmons Center Foundation Board of Directors and knew one of the things we needed to do was to upgrade the lighting and sound in the Simmons Center Theater.”
The committee wanted to make a fun fundraiser so they decided to do something a different. They will be hosting a “Grammy” style evening on Jan. 19. There will be performances interspersed with people being inducted into the inaugural class of the hall of fame. Headliners for the Duncan Area Arts Hall of Fame spectacular are pianist and singer David Briscoe, trumpeter David Hooten and vocalists Laura Leighe Gossett Stockton, Danielle Flesher Webb and Chris Cowan. All artists are originally from Duncan and have pursued musical careers throughout the country.
A little bit more about the line up of talent:
• Briscoe began piano lessons at age nine, where he quickly realized music would be an integral part of his life. “At thirteen, he began working at Duncan FUMC as a janitor and often became distracted when a piano was nearby,” his bio said. During high school, he was the pianist/organist at Velma United Methodist Church.
A 1988 graduate of Duncan High School, he graduated from Oklahoma City University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Pedagogy after studying over two years to be an organist. He returned to OCU in 1997 to obtain a Master of Music in Vocal Performance (2001).
“He has been the Choir Director at Chickasha High School, music director at Tinker Air Force Base Chapel, among other ministry positions, and has performed at over 3000 weddings and events,” his bio read. “He is also a realtor at Keller Williams Elite Realty in Oklahoma City.”
• Hooten is a multi-Grammy and Emmy nominated musician. As a child, Hooten took trumpet lessons from the local music store owner, Merle Brandon, for which he was never charged a cent. “Brandon always said, ‘Do what I tell you, and that is payment enough,’” said his bio. Hooten later studied with legendary trumpet instructor, Don “Jake” Jacoby.
In May 1989, Hooten released his first album, “The Trumpet Shall Sound,” produced on his own label, D.B.H. Productions, Inc. “The critically-acclaimed album, which included his first hit single, ‘Amazing Grace,’ sold tens of thousands of copies worldwide,” the bio read. He has since released over 20 albums and has performed on and produced over 100 albums.
In addition to recording, Hooten’s busy schedule includes appearances worldwide as a guest trumpet soloist in recitals and with symphony orchestras.
Hooten has been a soloist with The Kiev Symphony Orchestra, The Garland Symphony Orchestra, The East Texas Symphony Orchestra, The Oklahoma Youth Orchestra, The Enid Symphony Orchestra, The Mormon Youth Orchestra and Choir, The Oklahoma City Philharmonic, The Thailand National Symphony Orchestra for Thailand’s gala event of the year, and for Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th Birthday. “Hooten also performed a private performance for The Royal Family and was invited to record an album with the Princess of Thailand.” his bio stated.
In Oct. of 2018, Mr. Hooten released “Songs for Someone”, his 20th album. The work is all original pieces and has garnished great world-wide acclaim. In its first month, it enjoyed over 100,000 downloads.
• Gossett Stockton, better known by stage name “Laura Leighe,” is a local girl who moved out west to pursue her dreams and was recording her first album in 2015, where her songs quickly became an in-demand pop starlet on both club and radio DJ’s playlists across the globe. Her breakout single, “Boys Just Wanna Have Fun,” exploded on the UK dance-club scene; Going Top 5 on the Music Week Pop Dance Club Chart, as well as hitting #27 on Billboard’s Dance Club Chart the same week.
Her style is described as “combining modern electro with vintage keys and brass, she’s created a fresh style of electro swing and retro pop.”
Recently her hard work as an independent musician paid off when she signed her first label deal, under which, her song, “Never Gonna Leave,” was released by Hinky Records. Laura’s songs have also been heard on shows like MTV’s Real World, and most recently, ESPN’s broadcast of Oklahoma City Thunder Basketball. Stockton said her music always has her desire for positive messages even if the songs don’t seem overtly Christian.
“It’s really been my goal to be a light in a dark world,” she said previously to The Duncan Banner. “The sick need the doctor, not the healthy. It’s in my heart to reach the people that need it most and hopefully they will see who I am and that I love the Lord and that it inspires them to know the Lord as well.”
• Flesher Webb grew up in Duncan, and was a member of the 2005 DHS graduating class. She was very active in Duncan Little Theatre shows starting in the 4th grade (10 years old) and performed numerous plays and musicals over the years with the organization. “Danielle was also incredibly active in the DMS and DHS Vocal Music departments, and was lucky to study under both Zinn brothers,” the bio said. “Danielle was the first recipient of the Jimmy Zinn Memorial scholarship, as unfortunately he passed away her senior year of high school.”
With the help of that scholarship, Danielle moved to Edmond, where she studied Music Theatre at the University of Central Oklahoma. Danielle spent the past 5 years traveling the world as a Featured Singer/Dancer for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
This past holiday season, “Danielle was lucky enough to have the opportunity to tour the east coast of the US, as a Featured Vocalist in the National Tour of ‘Chria stmas Wonderland,’” according to her bio. Danielle has also had the opportunity to perform at many theaters across Oklahoma, including The Pollard Theatre (Guthrie), The Poteet Theatre (OKC), The Sooner Theatre (Norman), and Summerstock Theatre (Edmond). “Danielle will always consider Duncan home, and is so thankful for the support and encouragement from everyone in Duncan over the years,” she said.
• Cowan is also a Duncan native who spent his childhood performing at every venue possible in the community. “He welcomed every opportunity he had to volunteer his voice to various events, fundraisers, banquets, and church services,” his bio stated. “In those years, he was most actively involved with Duncan Little Theatre, Chisholm Trail Arts Council, and the Duncan High School Vocal Music and Drama programs, among many others. His fondest memories of the arts in Duncan include performing with Reflections Show Choir and playing the title role of Peter Pan with DLT.”
Cowan Chris attended the Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music, one of the top-tier programs in the country for musical theatre, receiving his Bachelor of Music in Music Theatre.
“He’s had the pleasure of performing with Great Lakes Theatre, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Playhouse Square, and the Beck Center for the Arts; he also recently completed a contract as a lead vocalist with AIDA Cruise Line,” according to his bio. “Some of his favorite theatre credits include Sweeney Todd, Spring Awakening, Titanic: The Musical, The Pokémusical, and Richard III. Chris is a proud member of the Actor’s Equity Association, the union for professional theatre actors.”
He is currently the guest director of Shrek the Musical for Duncan Little Theatre. Performances will be held February 22-24 and March 1-2 at the Simmons Center Theater.
On Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, there will be a Meet-the-Performers reception in the Chisholm Trail Hall of the Simmons Center. Performers and inductees will be available to meet and greet their Duncan friends.
Tickets will be on sale at the Simmons Center, 580-252-2900, beginning Dec. 3. Prices of tickets are $25, $50 or $75.
Combination tickets for the Hall of Fame Show and the Friday night Performers’ reception are also available for $45, $70 or $90. (Tickets to the reception only are $28).
For updates, check out the “Duncan Area Arts Hall of Fame” on Facebook.