Naomi Judd to highlight 1998-99 WAIS at Ozarks

Release Date: 8/5/1998

CLARKSVILLE, Ark. --- Former Country and Western Music singer and motivational speaker Naomi Judd highlights a list of female performers who are scheduled to appear at University of the Ozarks during the 1998-99 academic year as part of the annual Walton Arts & Ideas Series (WAIS).

The theme for the 1998-99 WAIS is "The Year of the Woman," in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the first Women's Rights Convention, held July 19, 1848, in Seneca Falls, N.Y.

Judd, who will give a motivational talk but will not sing during her WAIS appearance, will be at Ozarks on Sept. 10. Other WAIS performers include soprano Colleen Mallette on Oct. 20; actress Dianne Oyama Dixon on Feb. 2; piano soloist Wendy Chen and the Fort Smith Symphony on Feb. 21; and the Trinity Irish Dancers on March 8. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. in Seay Theatre of the Walton Fine Arts Center on campus.

Judd, the mother half of the former country singing sensations, The Judds, quit her singing career in the early 1990s after being diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening liver disease. In recent years she has traveled the country speaking on her message, "Love Can Build a Bridge," a motivational account of her victory over nearly insurmountable challenges. Judd's talk has been described as "an inspiring tale from which everyone can draw strength."

Mallette, an internationally acclaimed soprano, will perform "The Lemaze School of Music Presents: How to Birth a Song." Critics have said that Mallette turns her years of experience on the opera and concert stage into "an uproarious evening of musical irreverence." Her performances have been described as a "classical delicacy with a hefty helping of humor, bringing to the stage contagious energy, glorious music and hysterical laughter."

Dixon, who is performing at Ozarks as part of Black History Month as well, will star in "Claiming The Dream," a one-woman play celebrating the black American female experience. She portrays several historical figures, including Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks. The Honolulu Star Bulletin wrote that the play "expresses the wonder of being female and a black American."

Chen and the Fort Smith Symphony, under the baton of music director John Jeter, will perform a classical program featuring the Mussorgsky/Ravel "Pictures at an Exhibition." Chen, winner of the 1997 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, will also perform Saint Saens piano "Concerto No. 2."

The Trinity Irish Dancers, a group of dancers ages 13-18, will help celebrate St. Patrick's Day with an evening of Irish step dancing. The group has won a total of 13 world team dance titles, including last year in Ireland. The Chicago Tribune described their performance as "elegance and harmony that almost takes your breath away ... This group can dance --- their feet move with mind-boggling speed and precision, and their leaps are thrilling." The performance features live Irish music.

The Walton Arts & Ideas Series is funded by an endowment from the Walton Family Chatitable Trust.

A single season ticket to all five WAIS events is $40. Senior and youth season tickets are $20. Tickets to the individual events can be purchased for $15 each for the Naomi Judd performance and $10 each for the other four events. For more information on the 1998-99 WAIS, call the university at (501) 979-1349.