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The Secret City Radio Show – 4/5 – Dom Flemons and Kelle Jolly

April 5 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm $33.85

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East Tennessee’s Own WDVX and Oak Ridge Periodic Tables present the Secret City Radio Show at the historic Grove Theatre on Friday Night April Fifth at seven with host Chad Beauchaine. This show features special musical guests Dom Flemons and Kelle Jolly. The Secret City radio show is uniquely Oak Ridge featuring science, history and music.


Dom Flemons “The American Songster”is a GRAMMY Award Winner, Two-Time EMMY Nominee, 2020 U.S. Artists Fellow

Dr. Dom Flemons, is a musician based in the Chicago area and he is famously known as The American Songster® since his repertoire covers over one hundred years of American roots music. Flemons is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, music scholar, actor, slam poet, record collector, and the creator, host, producer of American Songster Radio Show on WSM in Nashville, TN. He is considered an expert player on the banjo, guitar, harmonica, jug, percussion, quills, fife and rhythm bones. In 2022, he received a degree as a Doctor of Humane Letters from his alma mater Northern Arizona University and was the commencement speaker at the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2022. In 2020, Flemons was selected for the prestigious United States Artists Fellowship Award for the Traditional Arts category which was generously supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In March 2023, Flemons released his highly anticipated solo album “Traveling Wildfire” on Smithsonian Folkways label which included original songs along with a 50 page liner notes booklet designed with custom artwork, tin type photos, and images taken by world renowned photographers. In June 2023, Dom Flemons premiered his new four part documentary series “The Real Wild West” on CuriosityStream. As the Narrator and a commentator on the series, Flemons guides viewers through this definitive story of the American west, where a diverse group of pioneers shaped a country and built the foundation for modern America. “The Real Wild West” was created by Roller Coaster Road Productions and the opening theme song for the entire series is Flemons’ original song “Traveling Wildfire”.

Solo Career Highlights

In the spring of 2022, Flemons made his debut as a creator, host, and producer on Nashville’s country music radio station WSM, where he released season three of American Songster Radio Show. Throughout this brand new season, Flemons’ curates a special hour-long monthly program that presents exclusive music selections from his personal record collection along with conversations with musical guests who are prominent in the American roots music genres; including, Bobby Rush, Mickey Guyton, Billy Strings, Steve Martin, Branford Marsalis, and Eric Andersen. Season Four of American Songster Radio Show features brand new episodes dedicated to Dom Flemons new solo album “Traveling Wildfire” on Smithsonian Folkways. Flemons and his co-host Vania Kinard present curated themed episodes that explore more music from their record collection along with additional commentary about the making of “Traveling Wildfire”.

In 2020, Dom Flemons released his two CD solo reissue album titled Prospect Hill: “The American Songster Omnibus on Omnivore Recordings. He was also invited to collaborate with Tyler Childers and performed on his entire album titled, Long Violent History, which received a GRAMMY Nomination at the 2022 GRAMMY Awards. In addition, he collaborated with the legendary guitarist Steve Cropper and Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band and together they released a single of the Elmore James classic blues song titled “Shake Your Money Maker”, which they recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, TN. Another collaboration he did in 2020 was performing on a track titled “Skip, Skat, Doodle-do” which was produced by Branford Marsalis for the soundtrack to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. In 2019, Flemons was chosen to be a “Spotlight Artist” at the Soundtrack of America event curated by the World Renowned Quincy Jones and EMMY Award Winning Director Steve McQueen. He was then featured on the Bank of America and Ken Burns ‘Country Music’ commercial that airs regularly on PBS.

In 2018, Flemons released a solo album on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings titled Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys which is part of the African American Legacy Recordings series, co-produced with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The album sparked a worldwide phenomenon and his interview with AJ+ went viral on twitter and Facebook reaching over 2.5 million views, bringing the black contributions to country music and western history to the forefront of popular culture. His album Black Cowboys received a GRAMMY Nomination and went on to win a Wammie Award for “Best Folk Album”, a Living Blues Award for “New Recordings/ Traditional & Acoustic album”, the ASCAP Foundation Paul Williams “Loved the Liner Notes” Award, and he was selected for a 2020 Maryland State Arts Council’s Independent Artist Award. The Black Cowboys album peaked at #4 and spent over 55 weeks on the BILLBOARD Bluegrass Charts and Flemons was nominated for “Artist of The Year” at the International Folk Music Awards, “Best Acoustic Album” at the Blues Music Awards, and “Best Folk Album” at the Liberia Awards.

In May 2018, Flemons had his solo debut on the Grand Ole Opry, during a night with Carrie Underwood and Old Crow Medicine Show. He was included in the American Currents Class of 2018 exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame Exhibit alongside Reba McEntire, Jeannie Seely, Chris Stapleton, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Kane Brown, Dan Auerbach, Dan + Shay, John Prine and more. At the 2018 National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Mid-America Awards, Flemons was nominated for TWO EMMY’s for PBS Episode: Songcraft Presents Dom Flemons and for the co-written song “Good Old Days” with Songwriter Ben Arthur. He was the first Artist-in-Residence at the “Making American Music Internship Program” at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in the summer of 2018. In 2017, Flemons was featured on David Holt’s State of Music on PBS and performed as bluesman Joe Hill Louis on CMT’s original television show “Sun Records”. In 2016, Flemons released a DUO album with British musician Martin Simpson titled “Ever Popular Favourites” on Fledg’ling Records. He launched a podcast, American Songster Radio, with two seasons on WUNC Public Radio and filmed two instructional DVD’s through Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop.

Flemons has been invited to be a speaker at virtual programs and at prestigious institutions, including; Harvard University, Stanford University, Vanderbilt University, Princeton University, Library of Congress, Blue Ridge Music Center, Berklee School of Music, and served as a co-convener speaker for the Cultural Equity Council at Folk Alliance International. In 2022, he was the Keynote Speaker at the Folk Alliance Region Midwest conference in Lisle, IL. He has served on the Board of Directors at the Steve Martin Banjo Prize, Folk Alliance International, Music Maker Relief Foundation, and was elected as a Governor on the Board of Directors for the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Recording Academy.

As a solo artist, he has toured over a million miles all across America and has had a successful tour throughout Canada, Ireland, the U.K., Spain, France, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, and Malaysia. He has represented America at internationally acclaimed venues and festivals, like the Rainforest World Music Festival in Malaysia, the YodelFest in Germany, and the Cecil Sharp House in England. Flemons has performed at historic venues throughout the U.S. including the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman, the Kennedy Center, Abraham Lincoln’s Cottage, Appomattox Courthouse, National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and the opening ceremony for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Flemons has performed with hundreds of artists from around the world and has been featured on albums by Tyler Childers, Dropkick Murphys, Fantastic Negrito, Paula Boggs, Eric Andersen, Martin Simpson, and Bassekou Kouyate. He has performed with Yo Yo Ma, Kathy Mattea, Branford Marsalis, Steve Cropper, Rev. Payton’s Big Damn Band, Old Crow Medicine Show, Molly Tuttly, Billy Strings, Jerry Douglas, Andy Hedges, Tony Trischka, Ranky Tanky, Amysthyt Kiah, Leyla McCalla, Valerie June, Allison Russell (w/ Birds of Chicago), David Holt, Guy Davis, Taj Mahal, and Vince Gil, Jimbo Mathus, and Alvin Youngblood Hart, to name a few. Throughout his career he has met iconic figures including Quincy Jones, Steve McQueen, the Honorable Congressman John Lewis, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Denzel Washington, Ken Burns, and more.

Carolina Chocolate Drops

In 2005, Dom Flemons created the Carolina Chocolate Drops with Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson. The group honored the legacy of Joe Thompson who was their mentor and the traditional string band music of North Carolina. In 2007, Flemons had an acting role as a Juke Joint Musician along with recording songs with the Carolina Chocolate Drops for the Golden Globe nominated, Oprah Winfrey executive produced, Denzel Washington directed feature film The Great Debaters, starring Denzel and Forest Whitaker. In 2010, they won a GRAMMY for their album Genuine Negro Jig and then received a 2012 GRAMMY nomination for their album Leaving Eden which were both released on Nonesuch Records. Flemons toured with the group from 2005 to 2013 and officially left the band to pursue his solo career in 2014. In 2016, the Carolina Chocolate Drops were inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame and they no longer exist as a band. The CCDs are featured in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and at the National Museum of African American Music. Flemons currently has a personal collection at the Southern Folklife Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC.

Educational Background

From 2000 to 2005, Dom Flemons attended college at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ where he graduated with a degree in English. As a student he took courses on Latin, Greco-Roman Literature and Philosophy, Shakespeare, Chaucer, creative writing, poetry, and the history of photography. He began his music journey busking on the streets of downtown Flagstaff and studying music at the Cline Library on campus. Flemons also became a slam poet and went on to represent Northern Arizona on the National level in 2002 and 2003. In 2005, he attended the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, NC at Appalachian State University and after graduation he left Arizona and relocated to North Carolina to pursue a professional career in music.

Family Background

Dom Flemons was born on August 30th, 1982 and he is a 5th generation Black and Mexican native of Phoenix, AZ. His parents Charles Henry Flemons and Dorina Dickey Flemons have deep roots in Arizona and both are connected to prominent black leaders in the southwest. His father Charles Henry was born in Flagstaff, AZ and became a successful college basketball player at Northern Arizona University. Dom’s paternal grandfather Reverend Raymond Flemons migrated to Arizona from Texas after serving in WWII and he became a sawmill worker. He also built churches throughout Northern Arizona and became an influential preacher in the African American community of Holbrook and Flagstaff, AZ. Dom’s mother was a flamenco dancer and the daughter of Bill Dickey, the Founder of the National Minority Junior Golf Scholarship. Dom’s grandfather Bill Dickey was inducted into the Western States Golf Association Hall of Fame (1985); the National Black Golf Hall of Fame (1989); the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame (2000); and the African American Golfers Hall of Fame. His maternal Great Uncle Dr. Lincoln Ragsdale, Sr. was a Tuskegee Airman and an influential leader in the african american community of Phoenix. Flemons family legacy not only includes Tuskegee Airmen but also military veterans, western pioneers, and prominent civil rights leaders in Arizona.

Vocalist Kelle Jolly is known as “The Tennessee Ukulele Lady”.

Kelle expresses herself through folk traditions of the South. Her first ukulele was a shiny green Kala with a dolphin on the bridge. She had her first ukulele lessons on Youtube fifteen years ago. She is the founder of Ukesphere of Knoxville, a ukulele group for all ages. As an ambassador of jazz, she has traveled to Muroran, Japan as Knoxville’s Sister City representative at various jazz festivals and events. Kelle Jolly is the host of Jazz Jam with Kelle Jolly, an hour-long show that celebrates great local, national and international singers of jazz on WUOT 91.9FM. She is also the founder of the Women in Jazz Jam Festival. Kelle is a teaching artist on the Tennessee Arts Commission Roster. Kelle is a member of the Jonesborough Storytelling Guild. She is a National Association of Black Storytellers 2023 Black Appalachian Storyteller Fellow. Kelle plays Octopus brand ukuleles.



April 5
7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Event Category:


Grove Theater
123 Randolph Rd.
Oak Ridge, TN 37830 United States
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(865) 425-0501
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