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Charlie Wilson, legendary singer and former lead vocalist of the GAP Band, will be a guest feature on the groundbreaking Fire in Little Africa album of original material, written and recorded by a collective of Oklahoma hip hop artists to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
The 21-track collection gets to the truth of what happened on May 31 and June 1, 1921 when a White mob descended on the streets of Greenwood — then a prosperous Tulsa neighborhood known as Black Wall Street — and burned down the business district, destroying roughly 1,500 homes, killing hundreds and leaving thousands of Black Tulsans homeless.
For years, this historic, albeit dire, chapter was left out of classrooms and textbooks as the city attempted to erase this part of its past. The artists heard on Fire in Little Africa get to the truth through urgent songs, recalling stories told and stories lived in hope to usher in a new era for Tulsa as they help the community process this generational trauma through music.
Fire in Little Africa
“I am honored to be a part of the Fire In Little Africa album featuring the musical contributions of young talented local artists from my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This tragedy has been suppressed for generations.”
Charlie Wilson continues, “Growing up in Tulsa, we named our band
The GAP Band, after Greenwood, Archer and Pine Streets, the wealthiest and most successful African American community in the United States in the early 20th century. I am proud to see a new generation of talented Tulsans continue to tell the story of our ancestors. They are opening the door for many generations to come by shedding light not only on the race massacre but the excellence of the Black Wall Street and Greenwood community.”
The album was recorded in Greenwood over a five-day period in March 2020. Studios were set up at the Greenwood Cultural Center and other locations, including the former home of 1921 massacre mastermind/KKK leader Tate Brady. The house is now owned by former NFL first-round draft pick and Tulsa native Felix Jones.
Fire in Little Africa marks the first new material released by Black Forum since the label’s relaunch earlier this year. Black Forum originally debuted in 1970 with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam, which won a GRAMMY Award for Best Spoken Word Album. The label reissued Dr. King’s influential speech earlier this year.