Proposed OKPOP museum gets donation of Ernie Fields memorabilia
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
3/05/13 at 6:56 AM
The family of noted Tulsa band leader Ernie Fields, known as "The Genial Gentleman of Swing," has donated a collection of memorabilia associated with his career to the proposed Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, or OKPOP.
Ernie Fields Jr., who is the music contractor for such popular TV shows as "American Idol," "The Voice" and "The X Factor," and his sister Carmen Fields, a Boston-based journalist, donated the artifacts, recordings, photographs, posters and documents that chronicle Fields' career.
Fields formed his first band, The Royal Entertainers, soon after settling in Tulsa in the 1920s.
"My dad and Bob (Wills) would spend time together, and they would get both of their bands together for late-night jams after the paying gigs were over," Fields Jr. said in an interview with the OKPOP staff. Wills helped Fields and his orchestra become the first African-American band to perform at Cain's Ballroom.
In 1959, the Ernie Fields Orchestra won national fame with its rendition of Glenn Miller's "In the Mood." The song reached No. 4 on the Billboard charts and earned Fields a gold record.
In 1989, Fields was among the first inductees into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. He died in 1997.
"It's important to me and my sister that the state of Oklahoma honors my father's legacy at the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture," Fields Jr. said. "The Ernie Fields Orchestra performed in all of the states, Canada, Mexico and Cuba. But, by choice, Oklahoma remained home because of his committed connection and devotion to his family."
OKPOP is a project of the Oklahoma Historical Society that will be constructed in Tulsa's Brady Arts District if a $42.5 million bond is approved. Officials with the project say the 75,000-square-foot facility could be built by early 2017.
Original Print Headline: OKPOP gets Ernie Fields memorabilia
James D. Watts Jr. 918-581-8478