OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – On Wednesday, Oklahoma leaders unveiled the official portrait of the 13th Oklahoma Cultural Treasure, Wanda Jackson, legendary “Queen of Rockabilly,” at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
The event took place on the second-floor rotunda.
Those in attendance in addition to Ms. Jackson included Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell, Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan, and Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples who gave remarks.
The Governor of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Arts Council may designate an individual as an Oklahoma Cultural Treasure if that individual is considered especially precious or valuable by a particular period, class, community or population. Among the criteria for the selection are that the designee must be 70 years of age or older, be a bearer of intangible cultural assets and have outstanding artistic or historical worth.
Wanda Jackson, the “Queen of Rockabilly,” made her mark as an influential rockabilly singer at a time when the genre was dominated by male artists. Born in Maud, Oklahoma, Jackson attended high school in Oklahoma City where at the age of 17 she signed her first record deal. Initially a country music artist, Jackson evolved her music into rockabilly in the mid-1950s at the encouragement of Elvis Presley.
Wanda Jackson recordings in the 1960s and 1970s broadened her reach as an artist as she integrated her country music roots while expanding into the gospel music genre. Having returned to her rockabilly roots in the 1980s, she has sustained a career that as recently as 2011 featured the release of an album produced by Grammy Award-winning rock artist Jack White.
In 2009, Jackson was inducted into the Rock & Roll of Fame due in large part of her pioneering influence in a genre that serves as a precursor to much of today’s popular music.
A diverse range of female artists cite Jackson`s impact on their careers, including Rosanne Cash, Adele, Bonnie Raitt, and Cyndi Lauper.
Throughout her extensive and consequential career, Jackson has remained devoted to her home state Oklahoma!