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Art Buzz: Music of The Dirty South

Bellows/Cassatt Rooms
$30 ($24 for members)
This event has passed

You know that music is a big part of The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, and you’re ready to dive deeper. And we know you love a good night out—so we found a way to bring the two together.

We invite you to join us for Art Buzz: a multi-part series packed with expert insight, great drinks, and a laid-back atmosphere. Enjoy everything you wish college could be as you sip cocktails and dive deep into the week’s theme with fun and fantastic personalities.

This month, we’re exploring three of the genres of music behind The Dirty South: gospel, blues, and hip-hop. Each session will focus on a specific musical genre and its impact on and importance to Black culture. Dr. Caree Ann Marie Banton, director of African and African American Studies at the University of Arkansas will host the series and join in conversation with an expert on each genre.

After each week’s session, we invite you to stick around and enjoy free live performances of each genre from 7 to 8 p.m. on Walker Landing. Packed with great stories, insights, and just plain fun, this might be your new favorite way to learn more about art and The Dirty South. See you there!


a woman looks at a glass case installation of brightly-colored stage costumes, instruments, and sculptures

Tickets are $30 ($24 for members),  reserve your spot online or with Guest Services at (479) 657-2335 today.
Ticket includes registration for all three sessions and one drink (non-alcoholic options available). Must be age 21+ to drink alcohol.

Music of The Dirty South Schedule

  • May 26: Gospel music with Dr. Caree Banton and 2021 GRAMMY Music Educator of the Year, Dr. Jeffrey Murdock.
  • June 2: Blues music with Dr. Caree Banton and Orson Weems, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Music Education Initiative.
  • June 9: Hip-hop with Dr. Caree Banton and hip-hop artist and activist Osyrus Bolly.


About the Speakers

Caree Banton

Dr. Caree Banton is an Associate Professor of African Diaspora History and the Director of the African and African American Studies Program at the University of Arkansas. Banton earned a BPA in Public Administration and BA in History from Grambling State University in 2005. She received a MA in Development Studies from the University of Ghana in July 2012 and completed her Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University in June 2013. Her research focuses on movements towards freedom, particularly abolition, emancipation, and colonization. Much of her work also explores ideas of citizenship, nationhood, and race. Her research has been supported by a number of fellowships and grants, including the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, the Andrew M. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, the Lapidus Center Fellowship at the Schomburg Center, the Nancy Weiss Malkiel Fellowship, and the National Endowment for the Humanities grant. Banton teaches classes in Caribbean History, African Diaspora History, and the History of Race. She is a member of the University of Arkansas Teaching Academy and has been named a Master Teacher in Fulbright College. Her book, More Auspicious Shores: Barbadian Migration to Liberia, Blackness, and the Making of the African Republic, explores continuities and mutabilities in Black experiences of freedom, citizenship, nationhood, and race across the Atlantic world was published by Cambridge University Press in May 2019.


Dr. Jeffrey Allen Murdock

Dr. Jeffrey Allen Murdock is internationally known as a conductor and clinician. He currently serves as Associate Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Arkansas. He is the 2016 Connor Endowed Faculty Fellow in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Science, and 2019 Most Outstanding Faculty at the University of Arkansas. He is the 2021 GRAMMY Music Educator of the Year.
Dr. Murdock has conducted regional and state honor choirs, and headlined conferences in 26 states and 5 countries. With research interests inclusive of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy in the Choral Classroom, Music in Urban Schools, and Social Justice in Music Education, he has presented at state, regional and national conferences of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the International Society for Music Education (ISME), and the American Choral Director’s Association, where he serves as president-elect of the Southwestern Division, past-president of Arkansas ACDA, and serves on the national diversity subcommittee. Choirs under Dr. Murdock’s direction have performed at the Arkansas All-State Conference and the Southwestern Division Conference of the American Choral Directors Association. In addition to being an accomplished conductor of western choral music, Dr. Murdock is also a skilled gospel musician and conductor. He has served on the conducting staff of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., has collaborated with numerous world-renown Gospel recording artists.

Dr. Murdock holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting, both from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education from the University of Memphis.


Orson Weems

Orson Weems is the co-founder and executive director of The Music Education Initiative. Prior to heading this diverse-led and founded nonprofit, Orson worked as the chief operating officer with the legendary music and entertainment icon, Al Bell, and his global music, entertainment, and artist development company, Al Bell Presents. Since 2006, Orson has been the president and majority shareholder of Land Improvement Company, a company founded in 1965 that specializes in construction management, civil construction/site preparation, small building demolition, and industrial services for federal, state, and local projects and government contracts.

Orson is on the board of Canyon Engineering and Environmental Services, (New Braunfels, TX) and has served on numerous boards, including the Razorback Lettermen’s Club Board of Directors, the Arkansas Alumni Association Board of Directors, the Walton College of Business, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board, the University of Arkansas Chancellor’s Council on Diversity. 

He is a graduate of The University of Arkansas, Fulbright College of Arts and Science, with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (Advertising and Public Relations), and a minor in English. He was also a Razorback offensive lineman and three-year letterman (‘81, ‘82, ‘83) under Coach Lou Holtz. 

An enthusiastic sports fan, Orson also enjoys traveling, cooking, good food, great music, and estate sales. He resides in Rogers, Arkansas with his wife, Karen, they have a son, a daughter, and one grandson.


Osyrus Bolly

Osyrus Bolly is an artist/activist who combines his passion for the arts and social justice to create his own platform framed as Liberation Arts. Osyrus Bolly has shared stages with artists such as Big Boi of OutKast, Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan, Jessica Care Moore, Bilal, Devin The Dude, and Sunni Patterson. He is a founding member of nationally ranked poetry slam troupe Foreign Tongues. In 2018 he released his hip hop single “Happy Black Girl” an ode to black women with natural hair and was awarded the ML Magazine 2018 Community Outreach Award. He is active with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Arkansas Youth Coalition for Social Change, and Poor People’s Campaign National Call For Moral Revival. In 2018-2019 he taught special interest spoken word classes at the University of Arkansas Little Rock with Charles W. Donaldson Scholars Academy program. In 2019 Bolly worked across Arkansas to engage communities around youth advocacy, voter engagement, social justice, racial equity, education, and criminal justice reform. Alongside Dawn Jeffrey with Seeds of Liberation and partnering with Arkansas Citizens First Congress & ACLU of Arkansas they were able to complete the #KnowYourRights Tour in Arkansas, helping to engage hundreds of Arkansans about the rights of citizens through interactive discussions with lawyers, artistic expression and literature. In 2019 he was the Activist Award recipient at the Black Empowerment Awards. In 2020 he was a teaching artist for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s HEARD Project and became an organizer for the Little Rock Freedom Fund, Little Rock Freedom Fund was created for the people by the people. The fund works to support activists, organizers, and protestors in Arkansas who are working to educate, organize, and activate the people. On election day November 3, 2020, Bolly released a new single entitled “What’s at Stake”, a song that promotes voter education, civic engagement, and encouraging marginalized communities to get involved in understanding the importance of public policy/advocacy. Osyrus Bolly is currently the Racial Equity & Social Justice Coordinator for the Arkansas Public Policy Panel.