Ann Bell, an original member of the famed Tulsa Sound, will be inducted by the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame Sept. 18 at a ceremony and concert in Muskogee.
Bell started her professional music career at age 16, when she and high school friends Max Wisely, Bill Phillips, Dick Gordon Jr. and Wayne Evans formed the band Rubbery Cargo. The group was discovered and signed a contract to perform at a Tulsa teen club.
In 1968, she met and married the legendary Larry Bell and joined his band, which included Tommy Tripplehorn, Gary Sanders, John Rigney and Carl Day.
In the 1960s-70s, Bell and her husband founded several bands, including The Sunday Servants and the Larry and Ann Bell Band. They began performing with musicians who had noted careers of their own, including Jamie Oldaker and David Teegarden.
She has performed with the GAP Band, J.J. Cale, and Gary Busey. In 1973, Ann began touring and recording with Leon Russell. She left to tour with Joe Cocker from 1977-1981.
When Woodstock came on the scene, Bell moved to New York where she performed with Robbie Dupree, Orleans and Todd Rundgren.
Her career included recording and touring through the 1990s with Richie Havens, Johnny Average Band and David Sancious.
With her current husband, Tom Nicholson, a keyboard player and producer, the two fronted additional bands. Her New York contacts included Nicole Willis, Wells Kelly and Dede Deja Washburn.
Bell still records today.
Bell is credited as being the inspiration for the Oklahoma-based Women of Song (WOS) project. Brenda Cline founded WOS as a platform to feature female artists who are major contributors to the Oklahoma music scene and deserve recognition.
On Sept. 18, Bell’s induction is at 7 p.m., immediately followed by her concert.
The Bell concert is free, and serves as the capstone of a daylong Muskogee Festival of music, arts and games made possible by the Muskogee Depot District.
Bell will perform with an eight-piece band on an outdoor stage east of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. The band includes Tom Nicholson, keyboards; Billy Estes, drums; Frank Padilla, percussion; Alan Ransom, bass; Pete Marriott, guitar; Jennifer Marriott, vocals and guitar; Wade Inman, sax and Dede Deja Washburn, vocals.