Photo credits: L.A. Sheppard
To celebrate Juneteenth festivities, which commemorate the abolition of Black slavery in the U.S., the Missouri History Museum once featured a notable performance by a contemporary, jazz, and folk musician who is also known as a blues legend.
Guitarist and vocalist Lemuel Sheppard (pictured) was the musician tapped by the Missouri History Museum to entertain crowds in St. Louis. Festivities for the museum’s Juneteenth celebration began around 3:30 p.m. (CST) on June 15, 2003. In 1978, Sheppard joined the Eva Jessye Choir and began performing.
Dr. Jessye is most known for being the original chorus conductor for George Gershwin’s folk opera “Porgy and Bess.” Sheppard learned to play the saxophone and began studying music theory at Pittsburg State University (Pittsburg, Kansas), where Dr. Jessey served formerly as an artist in residence. Sheppard ultimately established a lasting legacy of his own. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame in 2003.
Sheppard was also a national finalist in the Telluride Acoustic Blues Challenge. He won the prestigious Joan O’Bryant Award, which was presented by the Kansas Folklore Society. When it comes to performing at other historic venues, Sheppard has also played at the Kennedy Center. He is the composer who put together the musical score for PBS’s film “Black, and White & Brown.”
This PBS documentary commemorates the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. The Topeka Board of Education.