Leon Russell, Joy Harjo named to Oklahoma Hall of Fame

TULSA, Okla. — Oklahoma natives Leon Russell and Joy Harjo have been added to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

Harjo is a poet and musician from Tulsa. She picked up the saxophone at age 40, and has been honored and celebrated with her music.

Harjo is the first artist in residence at the Bob Dylan Center and has hundreds of books that she curated showing within the facility. She is also the first Native American to serve as a U.S. poet laureate.

“She has been justly celebrated for her poetry, for her music, for her social consciousness work and we’re just so lucky to have her here in Tulsa so I think it’s very fitting that she has been inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame,” said Steven Jenkins, Director of the Bob Dylan Center.

Oklahoma native Leon Russell, who passed away in 2016, is no stranger to Tulsa. The legendary musician was raised in Tulsa and opened The Church Studio in 1972.

Russell has influenced generations of artists, has several gold records under his name, and has also been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

“He was a very influential person in the music industry, even influencing greats like Elton John. It can’t be denied, influencing guys like Bruce Hornsby and any other guy that stepped behind a piano that wanted to be a singer/songwriter, they owe some it to Leon,” said musician Sam Flowers.

Flowers says Russell’s legacy is undeniable, and he’s happy to see him honored for both his contributions to both Tulsa and the entire music industry.

”I think it’s great. The Church Studio and it’s appearance here in Tulsa, and Oklahoma the state recognizing Leon. It’s about time, it is due, he is one of our great Oklahomans.”

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