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'Doc' Holladay speaks about race, religion, music at Oklahoma State U.

Updated 12:00 PM ET February 19, 2001

By Cassie DeLozier
Daily O'Collegian
Oklahoma State U.

(U-WIRE) STILLWATER, Okla. -- Baritone saxophonist and ethnomusicologist Marvin "Doc" Holladay shared his music and insights with the Oklahoma State University Baha'i community in the Student Union Starlight Terrace on Sunday night.

Holladay, a renowned musician and member of the Baha'i faith, is touring the Southern states, offering his views on religion, racial equality and music in honor of Black History Month.

Mike Bigler, member of the Baha'i community, said OSU was lucky to hear Holladay speak.

"This lecture was kind of due to the luck of timing," Bigler said. "We were contacted about a week ago and made the arrangements for him to perform here."

"My son attends the University of Tulsa and tried to get (Holladay) to perform there and they never could get the arrangements made," Bigler said. "They couldn't find a room to hold the program in."

Holladay started the program with the Duke Ellington tune, "In a Mellow Tone," then spoke about unity and diversity, a quality found in Ellington's music and the Baha'i faith.

"It's not us and them," Holladay said. "It's just all of us. We're all the same and different."

Holladay discussed the reasons he named his autobiography "Life on the Fence." He spoke about his small hometown and shared a story about a time when racism slapped him in the face.

After walking out of a restaurant that did not admit blacks, Holladay and his black friend went to a chicken shack where a cook treated him strangely because he was white.

"Because of what I looked like, I couldn't go here, and because of what I was, I couldn't go there," Holladay said. "There are a lot of us that sit on that fence."

Holladay played three songs during the lecture and discussed the importance of jazz in American heritage.

"Jazz is integral to the way the world sees us," he said. "When people around the world hear jazz, they hear America."

Holladay also discussed the Baha'i faith and his views on unity.

"If you read spiritual books from different religions, the spiritual message is the same," he said. "It is the social message that is different."

"God made one religion; man made them different."

Holladay attended Yale University and Wesleyan University to pursue adoctorate in ethnomusicology.

"Don't you just love it when people put all of those syllables on to words?" Holladay asked the small audience. "I'm a teacher of world music."

Holladay has toured the world with musicians Duke Ellington, J.C. Heard, and the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra and recently released a new compact disc titled, "Sweetness and Light."

Rocky Salim, member of the OSU Baha'i Club, said Holladay's lecture was appreciated by the Baha'i community.

"It's really a special thing that Doc Holladay was able to be here," Salim said.

©Copyright 2001, Daily O'Collegian

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