NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) — To surrender yourself to one of Jahruba Lambeth’s stories or songs is to enter a stream whose currents have touched many shores.

Jahruba grew up in a still-segregated Oklahoma City, as an eyewitness to the first sit-ins, a hitch in the Army during Vietnam, Black Studies in college, and then finding his musical voice in Reggae on a trip to Jamaica.

He recalls the music, “It hit me. Like, this was my tribe. It felt different.”

He could have drowned in the fast waters in any part of his stream, but he didn’t ever want to get out.

Stopping, he argues, would have been worse.

“It’s been a wild adventure,” he admits.

“You haven’t jumped out yet.” we ask, continuing his metaphor?

“No,” he replies quickly. “You got to be in the stream, or the curve. As long as you’re in, you can deal with what’s outside of it, as long as you’re in the stream.”

From his house and retreat in rural Norman, Jahruba—the bongo player, the story teller, the teacher—continues his work, pulling with him all the influences that brought him downstream this far.

He still plays and performs regularly.

But his latest venture, a sort of memorial to his son who lost a battle with cancer a few years ago, put instruments and instruction in the hands of young people who want to perform.

Bring more human sounds to a world that is, he says, increasingly machine generated.

“We need to make more musicians,” he insists, “because AI is creeping up on us fast.”

The waters are deep and wide. Jahruba’s stream is easy to enter, hard to leave.

The mixture of influences are all there, starting and ending in central Oklahoma.

Jahruba is planning a three-day series of concerts across Norman starting October 5 at the Blue Door, October 6 at the Midway Deli, and October 7 at Hollywood Corners to raise funds for music scholarships.


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