(Jim Halsey accepts a proclamation establishing ‘Jim Halsey Day’ from Oklahoma Secretary of State Susan Savage.)
The ceremony opened with a prayer in Potawatomi and English on the evening of Wednesday, April 7 as Country music impresario/artists manager Jim Halsey of Tulsa was honored at the Oklahoma History Center, located near the State Capitol. Minisa Crumbo, daughter of great Citizen Potawatomi artist Woody Crumbo and Halsey’s wife, offered the prayer.
The onstage gusts were Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame member Wander Jackson of Maud, Oklahoma, Country Music Hall of Fame member Roy Clark of Tulsa, and the four members of the Oak Ridge Boys. These are among the best known of the multitude of musicians whom Halsey has managed and mentored over six decades in his business.
Jackson told of how a then-20-year-old Halsey, a native of Independence, Kansas, earned the opportunity manage Hank Thompson and the Brazos Valley Boys. By that point, Thompson, who had moved to Tulsa, was an established Western Swing star. Later in the evening, Halsey averred that his own career had likely been helped more than he assisted Thompson’s.
But, Halsey soon began using what he was learning to advance his own career as he brought in new clients and boosted them. Jackson, the tiny but dynamic rockabilly singer who briefly dated Elvis Presley in 1955, joined his client list after Thompson heard her singing on Oklahoma City radio station KLPR in 1954.
Clark came on board in the early 1960s. The Oak Ridge Boys, whose career trajectory was flat in the mid-1970s, rocketed to new-found popularity under Halsey’s tutelage in that period.
The History Center has opened an exhibit of Halsey’s and his clients’ memorabilia. It’s called “Starmaker” and nicely complements the Center’s ongoing exhibit on the history of Oklahomans in Rock’n’Roll.
At the opening event, Halsey was also lauded for establishment of an Oklahoma City University program whose goal is to teach students the business side of the music industry – essentially to do what Halsey himself has done so well. Halsey has also written a book, “Starmaker: How to Make it in the Music Business.”
During the April 7th event, Roy Clark related a story about a New York City visit Halsey took him on shortly after Clark signed to have Halsey manager his career. Clark admitted to be puzzled by the fact that Halsey was having the pair walk all over New York City, dropping in on the heads of music labels, recording studios, publishing forms, and other industry-related companies.
During his turn on stage, Halsey said the strategy behind the visits was the truism that it is much easier to do business withy someone with whom one has spoken face-to-face in the past month than with someone one has either never met or has not seen in person in many months. Halsey said it took a while but that he and Clark and others of his clients eventually did business with the companies whose executives they had met on that New York City trip.
The evening’s only song performance was an a cappella version of the Gospel standard “Have a Little Talk With Jesus.” The Oaks’ Joe Bonsall explained that, during a 1976 USSR concert tour Halsey masterminded for Cark ad the Oaks, Soviet censors had objected to inclusion of the lyric “Canaan land” in the Gospel song “Where the Soul Never Dies,” requesting that it be changed to “Disneyland.” Negotiations ended with “that fair land” being substituted for “Canaan land.”
Bonsall said that, displaying his famous impish wit, Clark suggested tweaking the Soviets by singing “Have a Little Talk…” during the tour’s final performance. Persuaded by Clark’s what-can-they-do-to-us? argument, the Oak Ridge Boys agreed. The reprise of the rousing song had an overflow History Center audience singing along by the second verse.
Substituting for Gov. Brad Henry, Oklahoma Secretary of State Susan Savage presented Halsey a proclamation naming April 7, 2010 “Jim Halsey Day” across Oklahoma.
To view additional photos of the event, go here http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/album.php?aid=53955&id=1034172398&ref=nf.
(Citizen Potawatomi Nation member Minisa Crumbo offers a prayer in Potawatomi and English at Oklahoma History Center event honoring hr husband Jim Halsey.)
(The Oak Ridge Boys and Roy Clark sing “Have a Little Talk With Jesus” at the Oklahoma History Center event.)