The Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation (AJHF) inducted five distinguished jazz artists from the Natural State into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame on Monday, June 20, 2022, at the Arkansas Old State House Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The event honors Arkansas’ premier talented musicians who have made outstanding contributions in the performance of jazz music. This year’s inductees were: TeRoy “T” Betton Jr. (posthumously), Irene Crutchfield Brown, William “Bill” Craig (posthumously), Jackie Lamar and Ken Walker.
“We are honored to recognize our 16th class of Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame inductees since 1994,” said AJHF co-founder and Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame event coordinator James Thomson. “These talented Arkansas musicians join 72 others who have made significant contributions to jazz – we are grateful to their families, friends, fans and communities across Arkansas for the steadfast support.”
2022 Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame Inductees:
TeRoy Betton, Jr. (posthumously)
TeRoy Betton, Jr. “T” Betton (October 26, 1940 – December 18, 1986) was born in Fayetteville, AR and moved to Little Rock in early childhood. He gained recognition as a distinguished trumpeter, arranger, composer, writer, pianist, and music educator of Concert, Marching and Jazz Bands in Arkansas. He also gained international attention when he played trumpet, wrote, and composed for musical recordings. The multifaceted musician loved and played all band instruments; however, his primary instrument was the trumpet. Betton has been touted as a “musical genius.” He played with prominent legendary bands in Little Rock including the Art Porter Trio, The Fabulous Playboys, TeRoy Betton and Spillers Illusion and York Wilborn and the Thrillers. Betton also played with several musical giants such as Sammy Davis, Jr., Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson, Spinners, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Art Porter Sr. Betton is a graduate of Horace Mann Sr. High School, Little Rock. He received his bachelor’s degree in Music Education from AM&N College (UAPB), and Master of Science Degree in Education from Ouachita Baptist University (Arkadelphia). He did further studies in Music at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign. Betton was a member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Little Rock and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Irene Crutchfield Brown
Irene Crutchfield Brown, vocalist, born in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1939. She is a graduate of Langston High School in Hot Springs and attended AM&N College in Pine Bluff (now UAPB) 1957-1959. The singer is known for her beautiful voice shared with fans across the Little Rock area for more than two decades. She has performed with the late John Puckett (pianist, Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame 2006) at the Aristocrat Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, T. Betton, Art Porter, Sr. (pianist, Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame 1994) and many others.
Bill Craig (posthumously)
William “Bill” L. Craig (February 7, 1927 – March 26, 2020) known as a musician (saxophonist), composer, educator, author, and producer. He moved to El Dorado, Arkansas in 1930 until his death in March 2020. Craig produced seven (7) jazz specific records on his jazz Mark label from 1984-1993. As a member of the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation Advisory Board 1993-95, he was a co-founder of the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame in 1994 and served as the foundation’s fourth President. In El Dorado, he started the Young at Heart Big Band in 1996 and continued with the band until 2018.
Jackie Lamar – Jacquelyn Brown Lamar, musician (saxophonist), composer, educator, and author, born in Russellville, Arkansas in 1954, raised in Conway, Arkansas. She served as a professor of Saxophone and Jazz at the University of Central Arkansas from 1986 to 2018; and directed both Jazz II and Dixieland Ensembles. In 2018, Lamar was recognized for thirty years as Secretary of the Arkansas Jazz Educators. She is the developer of Jazz Studies curricula and has performed for numerous All Region, All State, and professional organizations across Arkansas.
Kenneth R. Walker was born July 22, 1956, in Sweet Home, Arkansas. In 1974, Walker graduated from Mills High School in Little Rock. He received a B.A. in Music Education from Arkansas Tech University in 1979. From 1979 to 1985, Walker worked as a free-lance bassist in the Little Rock area with local bands, including Art Porter, Sr. and visiting artists from the United States. Walker moved to Denver in late 1985. In 1987, he began a 12-year tenure as the house bassist at Denver’s legendary jazz club EL Chapultepec. At El Chapultepec, Walker played with a variety of Who’s Who of jazz artists. From 1987 to 1990, Walker participated in the Young Audience Program through the Denver Public Schools. Walker was a staff member of the Mile High Jazz Camp at the University of Colorado – Boulder in 1991 and from 1997 to 2001. Walker has worked as a faculty member at the Lamont School of Music. He has toured in Canada, Italy, and Australia. He has also performed at the Telluride Jazz Aspen Snowmass and other festivals throughout the U.S. Walker’s recording debut, “Terra Firma”, finished #56 on the top 100 Jazz CD releases for 2005. Kenneth R. Walker has earned the Rocky Mountain reputation of “first call” jazz bassist.
About the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation
Established in the State of Arkansas in 1992, the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about the historical significance of jazz in Arkansas. The Foundation sponsors and maintains the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame which holds induction ceremonies bi-annually. To learn more visit us on the web at www.arjazz.org and on Facebook at Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation.