2014 Inductees


The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame will honor several outstanding musicians at its 2014 Induction Gala and Ceremony.InducteesWardell Gray, Ralph Ellison, and Rae DeGeer will be posthumously inducted into the Jazz category; Robbie Mack McLerran will be inducted into the Blues category; Cortes Rex will be inducted into the Gospel category; Dr. Barry Epperly will be recognized with the Spirit of Community Excellence Award; Dr. Michael Moore will be recognized with the Zelia Breaux Distinguished Educator Award;Louisza Cornelius will receive the Legacy Tribute Award; and Annie Ross will be presented with the Jay McShann Lifetime Achievement Award.




  • Annie Ross


  • Wardell Gray
  • Ralph Ellison
  • Rae DeGeer


  • Robbie Mack McLerran


  • Reverend Cortes Rex


  • Dr. Barry Epperly


  • Dr. Michael Moore



The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fameis honored to present Annie Ross with the Jay McShann Lifetime Achievement Award. Ross is one of the early practitioners of a singing style known as "vocalese," which involves the setting of original lyrics to an instrumental jazz solo. Later Ross became part of the vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, and has been equally at home in the acting field, appearing in numerous films.

            Ross was born in England, but raised in Los Angeles. She landed a role in the Our Gang film series at the age of eight, singing a musical number on the show. Returning to Europe, she began her singing career, working with musicians such as James Moody, Kenny Clarke, and Coleman    Hawkins to name a few.

            Ross returned to the United States in 1952, settling in New York City, and soon recorded Singin' and Swingin' with members of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Later that year she recorded an album with vocalist King Pleasure, including the classic example of vocalese, "Twisted," which featured her treatment of saxophonist Wardell Gray's solo. It is perhaps her most famous song and has been recorded by Joni Mitchell, Bette Midler, and many others.

            In 1953, Ross toured Europe with Lionel Hampton's band, which included Clifford Brown, Art Farmer, and Quincy Jones. After several years in Europe, she returned to the states where she teamed up with vocalists Dave Lambert and Jon Hendricks on an album of Count Basie solos transposed for vocals. That was the beginning of the group Lambert, Hendricks & Ross.

            Between 1957 and 1962, the group recorded seven albums, including the one that put them in the spotlight: Sing A Song Of Basie (1957). They toured all over the world and also appear in Dave      Brubeck's musical theater piece The Real Ambassadors (1961). Ross left the group in 1962 and two years later she opened her own London nightclub called Annie's Room; a compilation of her 1965             performances there was released on Live in London (2006).

            Ross also is an accomplished actress and has appeared in a number of films, such as Superman III (1983), Throw Mama from the Train (1987), Pump Up the Volume (1990), and Blue Sky (1994).    Her most notable film role was as the jazz singer Tess Trainer in Robert Altman's Short Cuts (1993), in which she also sang. On stage, Ross appeared in Cranks (1955) in both London and New York, The Threepenny Opera (1972) with Vanessa Redgrave, and in the Joe Papp production of The Pirates Of Penzance (1982) with Tim Curry.

            Annie is a recipient of the prestigious NEA Jazz Masters award for 2010 and was inducted into the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame in 2009.  Annie also received the Mac award in May 2011.

            Ross resides in New York City where she still performs regularly, she continues to tour in the USA, UK and Europe annually.


Oklahoma-born jazzman Wardell Gray will be inducted into the Jazz category posthumously, andwas one of the top tenors to emerge during the bop era, the great tenor saxophonist of his time. Known as the Thin Man, Gray was a major contributor to the period of jazz creativity that ushered in modern jazz. Although his death was untimely and his career was abbreviated (1943-1955), Gray played with virtually every major figure of the period and was universally admired for his musical abilities and his gentlemanly deportment. Equally at home with standards, jazz originals, ballads, up tempo selections, and blues, Gray never compromised his high musical standards and talent. Gray died in 1955 in Las Vegas, after performing with the Benny Carter Orchestra during the opening of the Moulin Rouge, the city’s first integrated casino.


Ralph Ellison will be inducted into the Jazz category posthumously, and the Oklahoma-born musician-turned-writer was a novelist, literary critic, scholar and writer. Best known for his novel Invisible Man, which won the National Book Award in 1953, Ellison also wrote Shadow and Act—a collection of political, social, and critical essays—and Going to the Territory.  From an early age Ellison loved music, and expected to be a musician and composer. Although drawn to jazz and jazz musicians, Ellison studied classical music and the symphonic form, before turning to literature. Ellison died in 1994 of pancreatic cancer, though he continued to contribute his art to the community posthumously. After his death, more manuscripts were found in his home that were later published and recognized with critical success.


Oklahoma sax-man and clarinet playerRae DeGeer will be inducted into the Jazz category posthumously. DeGeer is best known for his work in the swing and bebop eras, playing alto saxophone for Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra. Playing both alto sax and clarinet for Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, DeGeer also recorded some of his most notable work.


Oklahoma bluesman, bassist, vocalist and songwriter Robbie Mack McLerran is keeping the Blues alive. In 2012, McLerran was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, alongside his fellow former band members. McLerran’s former surf band—The Astronauts—rose to popularity in the sixties, releasing a number of albums on the RCA label, and later Capitol Records under the new name Hardwater. In 1970, Robbie teamed up with Oklahoma native John Herron and formed a songwriting partnership and the country-rock band Boondoggle & Balderdash, releasing two LP records for the MCA record group. The father of fellow Blues star Little Joe McLerran, Robbie Mack McLerran continues to influence both the national and local Blues scene. 


Reverend Cortes Rex was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he attended Booker T. Washington High School and Langston University. He later pursued a Masters of Administration Degree at California State University at Dominquez Hills in Long Beach, California. Rex is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and is the president and producer of Signs and Wonders, Incorporated. Rex has provided background vocals for live performances and recording sessions with well-known gospel and secular artists, and received the City of Los Angeles Motown Award in 2008.


Dr. Barry Epperlywill be presented with the Spirit of Community Excellence Award, which honors individuals who have made significant contributions in the community toward supporting and promoting music and education. A driving force for music education, Epperly has supported live, symphonic music in Tulsa and northeast Oklahoma for more than thirty years. Since founding the Tulsa Little Symphony Orchestra in 1978, Epperly’s vision has been a community integration of the pursuit of artistic excellence, heightened arts appreciation, and support of music education for all ages. With a music education and performance career that spans more than forty years, Epperly produced programs with such legends as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Johnny Mathis, and Tony Bennett. During his White House service as conductor of the U.S. Army Chamber Orchestra, he performed for three administrations and international dignitaries with renowned guest artists including Isaac Stern, Leonard Bernstein, and Gelsey Kirkland.           


Dr. Michael Moorewill be recognized with the Zelia Breaux Distinguished Educator Award, which honors those individuals who have made significant contributions in music education. Moore recently retired from Tulsa Public Schools, where he worked at Academy Central, Will Rogers high School, Whitney Middle School, Nathan Hale High School, and Booker T. Washington High School. Concurrently, Moore served as an adjunct trumpet instructor at the University of Tulsa, and was previously employed with Union Public Schools and Northeastern Oklahoma State University. While a freelance musician, Moore served as director and soloist with the Tulsa Community Rehearsal Jazz Band, and principal trumpet with both the Tulsa Pops Orchestra and the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra. He has been awarded the State Superintendent Award for Arts Excellence, been inducted into the Western Swing Music Society of Kansas Hall of Fame, and received the Greenwood Cultural Center’s American Music Week Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts as a trumpet player.


Tulsa-based vocalist Louisza Cornelius is set to receive the Legacy Tribute Award, presented annually an up-and-coming jazz artist from Oklahoma. Cornelius burst onto the Tulsa jazz scene, impressing audience after audience with her throaty delivery and deep, strong lower register. While she may be a relative newcomer to the Jazz Depot stage—and to the rest of the Tulsa jazz scene—she’s hardly a rookie. Cornelius has been a featured performer in a jazz show at the House of Blues on L.A.’s Sunset Strip, following her jazz dreams to the West Coast, Paris, and then back to California, before returning to her hometown of Tulsa where she’s already established herself as an artist to watch.


The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and  educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.