Sept. 29 concert benefits Ethnic Heritage Museum

Staff Report

The African-American Gallery of Rockford’s Ethnic Heritage Museum (EHM) will present a jazz and blues concert at the Sullivan Center, 118 N. Main St., beginning at 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29.

Among the artists (see complete list below) who have volunteered their talents are E. Faye Butler, Joe Irving, Harlan Jefferson and Dorothy Paige-Turner.

The event is a “kick-off” to EHM’s “Tribute to the Eldorado Club” exhibit, which will be unveiled from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 30, in the African-American Gallery at the museum, 1129 S. Main St., Rockford.

Proceeds from the jazz and blues concert will be used to purchase archival and preservation supplies for the gallery. Tickets are $20 in advance or $30 at the door.

EHM is unique in its blend of ethnic groups, which include African-American, Italian, Lithuanian, Irish, Polish and Hispanic. A visit to each of these six galleries will enlighten visitors of their cultural history and their contributions to life in Rockford.

To learn more about the museum, contact David Ruffin at or the museum at (815) 962-7402, or visit


E. Faye Butler, a native of Rockford, has been performing professionally as an actress and singer for 35 years. She starred this past summer in Chicago’s Goodman Theatre production of Crowns.

Butler is the recipient of six Joseph Jefferson Awards, Three Black Theatre Alliance Awards, Helen Hayes Award, Excellence in the Arts Award, After Dark Award, Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI) award, John Barrymore Award, Sarah Siddons Society Award and Ovation Award.

Award-winning saxophonist Harlan Jefferson has gained recognition for his playing style and engaging stage presence. Jefferson’s passionate approach to playing the saxophone shows every time he blows his horn. He has the ability to bring music alive and effectively communicate with and affect his audiences through a voice and style that is uniquely his own.

Smooth jazz radio and Internet stations around the world play songs by Jefferson, such as “I Cry for You,” from his up-and-coming album. He was featured in the Chicago Defender newspaper, and has labeled Jefferson as one of Chicago’s hottest saxophone players.

Dorothy Paige-Turner’s performing career spans more than 30 years in the Rockford area and beyond as a vocalist in the jazz idiom, musical theater, symphonies, concert bands and jazz ensembles. She has performed with many musicians in the area beginning with Mike Williamson and the late Ron Pederson. This led to a five-night-per-week gig at Bellamy’s at the Clock Tower Inn with Julian DeLuna; a six-month stint with Maxine at the Butterfly Club in Beloit, Wis.; On the Waterfront; and special performances with Mike Alongi Band. She was a featured vocalist at the Playboy Club at Lake Geneva, Wis., with Al Feeney and Mike Barnett, Blondie’s on Rush Street in Chicago with Jacky Tarrason and Dennis Carroll, and many others along the way who contributed to her “education” as a jazz vocalist.

Paige-Turner is a retired elementary music educator from the Rockford Public Schools where she taught for 34 years. She currently performs with Joel Ross Quartet. They are five-time RAMI winners in the Best Traditional Jazz Category, winners of the Best Album in 2000, and were inducted in to the RAMI Hall of Fame in 2002. She has also received RAMI’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Joe “Joey” Irving began his career playing from Mississippi to Illinois, to New York, to Los Angeles, and singing in every major city in the U.S. He was signed by two major record companies and four independents, formerly known by Joey Irving in his early recording years. Joe has a strong base, with a large European following and a lot of Internet listeners.

In 1967, Vincent Chiarelli, a Sicilian immigrant, created Vincent Records and was one of the only record labels located in Rockford. Throughout the life of Vincent Records, Vince discovered a lot of talent in the northern Illinois area. While Vince himself did promote his ethnic and standard/ballad music, he also delved into the genres of country, rock, funk, soul and psychedelic. Under his label, he released many 45RPM records with artists such as Joey Irving, Pisces, Harriette Blake, Russ Blackwell and many more.

Odessa Barmore is known around Rockford as “Moma G” or “Miss Diamond Jones” and usually performs with the R&B band “Freestyle.” Odessa and her sisters always sang in the church choirs, as well as singing secular music with her brother’s bands. In the 1980s, Odessa moved to Detroit after being a DJ at the Eldorado Club, singing at jam sessions and with The Seventh Heaven Band and Uptown Band in Rockford. In Detroit, she sang in a recording studio for Dorothy Jones, a back-up singer for blues artists such as Bobby “Blue” Bland.

Coleen Martin Williams was born in Des Moines, Iowa, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa at Iowa City and her master’s degree from Roosevelt University in Chicago. Her career has taken her into the classroom, special university projects, and the executive quarters of government. She now considers herself to be semi-retired in a new career as a free-lance writer, poet and presenter of the spoken word.

Williams has been a featured writer for Chromelight II, a bi-monthly magazine, and for Foundation, a former bi-monthly publication of the Rockford Register Star. In 2012, she became the managing editor of Chromelight II.

Williams has presented her original poems on college campuses, in local churches, and for community events. She published her first book, Stems With Flowers, in 2010. She plans to release her second book in February 2013.

Stage band

Musical Director Ron Holm is an Americana singer, guitarist, harmonicist and composer. He is a founding member of the Between Planes band (John Bishoff, Janel Nelson and other gifted artists), whose Emery Christiansen album won critical acclaim on the Mountain Railroad label. Holm has shared billing with legendary performers including Odetta, Roy Orbison, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGee, Vassar Clements and Steve Goodman.

Holm has been featured on three nationally-distributed albums; his fourth album, called Arial Roots, with the Between Planes band, is slated for national release later this summer.

Holm’s musical styles include blues, gospel, reggae, country, folk and humor. One of his specialties is singing the music of Roy Orbison. When he is not performing or recording, Holm is probably training for triathlons — his other passion.

What happens when a classically trained concert pianist taps the musical roots of country and jazz from her childhood? Janel Nelson’s music embodies an unfolding answer to the question, but the simple answer is “magic.” Nelson’s music blends precision and innovation; understanding and emotion. Her evocative torch vocal interpretations transport listeners to another era, and her delicate treatment of Celtic classics can bring tears to the toughest of Irishmen. Nelson’s enthusiasm for uncommon musical instruments recently led her to take up the ocarina, which she plays masterfully.

Nelson is a performing member of Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center and an instructor at the Music Academy of Rockford. In addition to her solo endeavors, Nelson is a key member of the popular Between Planes band, helping the group explore unprecedented levels of arrangement intricacy and guiding their quest for the spirit of Roy Orbison’s music in their “In Dreams” productions.

Samuel “Paul” Barmore was born in Rockford. At the age of 12, he learned to play the guitar and then started playing bass guitar at 17. In the early 1960s, he played the electric bass guitar with a musical group called The Chancellors. In the later 1960s and the 1970s, he played the electric bass guitar for a different group called The Backsliders.

Barmore has been on the road for many years providing music for other musicians in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Canada and England. He is actively involved with the Ken Adamany Booking Agency in Milton, Wis., and with The Artist Corporation of America in Milwaukee. He is a free-lance musician, playing with different musicians for dances, nightclub and lounges in Rockford. He formed the Freestyle R&B band in 2002, where he is the original bass guitarist.

Guitarist John Bishoff has played music in the Rockford area since 1962. His first group, The Intruders, scored a local hit with his song “The World You’ve Created” in 1965. Subsequently, Bishoff has played in countless groups and been billed with a range of artists such as The Everly Brothers, Tommy James & the Shondells and The Lovin Spoonful. In 2001, Bishoff was presented with a Lifetime Achievement RAMI Award, and in the same year he joined platinum-selling flautist Nicholas Gunn on classical guitar. Bishoff is featured on four of Gunn’s albums.

As the owner of JRB Productions, Bishoff has recorded many well-known area artists such as Miles Nielsen, Pistol Pete and Dan Pitney. In 2006, Bishoff released Fear and Desire, his first album of original compositions, featuring vocalists Jinger Christal and Holland Zander. Bishoff produced and released Jerry Parlapiano’s RAMI-winning album Heartbreak City. His newest project is the soon-to-be-released Aerial Roots album by the Between Planes band.

James “Jaynell” Collins, a Rockford native, is a very talented musician who has played drums, lead guitar, bass guitar and some keyboards with show bands across the United States. In the 1960s, he provided music for Motown groups. On the road traveling as a back-up musician, he has performed with some interesting artists such as Stevie Wonder, Natalie Cole, Average White Band, The Spinners, The O-Jays, Rare Earth, Johnnie Taylor, B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, Betty Wright, Joe Simon, Ronnie Laws, Grover Washington, Ike & Tina Turner, Bobby Womack, Kool & the Gang, Rick James Stone City Band and various other artists.

From the Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2012, issue

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