Liberal, KS

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SCCC Library to Host Musician Lem Sheppard

Joe Denoyer - February 1, 2024 10:04 am


LIBERAL, Kan. – Seward County Community Library will host “African American Musicians in Kansas 1860-1920” presented by accomplished musician Lem Sheppard at noon, Monday, Feb. 5.

Sheppard, an internationally known blues guitarist, vocalist, and historian based in Pittsburg, Kan., will discuss African American musicians living between 1860-1920, who are often part of an under-told story in Kansas history.

Performing music not defined as traditionally Black, these musicians played in mandolin quartets, cornet bands, orchestras, and string bands and performed as itinerant musicians and jubilee singers at civic events, weddings, fairs, barn dances, and private homes. They were an important feature of the musical landscape of Kansas, and their history mirrors the history of Kansas itself: the struggle of abolition, the Civil War, and Western migration. This talk explores the dynamic musical history of African Americans, and the social and cultural impacts in Kansas.

Sheppard was born in Kansas City, Kan., and by the time he was nine years old, he was frequently playing guitar with the sons of Kansas City blues veterans. In 1999, he was nominated by a congressional committee to represent the state of Kansas in a solo performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

Sheppard’s accomplishments include composing and performing the soundtrack to the PBS documentary “Black White & Brown,” receiving awards from The Kansas Folklore Society, The Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame and was a National Finalist in the Telluride Acoustic Blues Challenge.

In 2017, Sheppard received the Meritorious Achievement Award from his Alma Mater, Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg Kansas.

Admission is free and open to the public. Pizza and refreshments will be served.

This program is sponsored by Kansas Humanities.

For more information, contact the SCCC Library at (620) 417-1160.


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