"Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain!" Who doesn't know the stirring lyrics to the most famous of all state songs? Rodgers & Hammerstein's musical captures the rambunctious frontier spirit of this state-an even more captivating place in reality.
In Oklahoma, the American West and the American Dream come together-sometimes in one person, like Will Rogers, the part-Cherokee journalist and vaudevillian who became the nation's best-loved humorist. Woody Guthrie, our laureate of folk song, also springs from Oklahoma soil, as do journalist Bill Moyers and Apache sculptor Allan Houser, whose work graces the White House lawn. Oklahoma helped to create the cowboy icon: on the legendary Chisholm Trail, in touring Wild West shows, and in the movies, with actors Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. America's oil boom began here, and "black gold" built the Art Deco skylines of Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Hardy survivors of the Dust Bowl era, Oklahomans planned and built the "Mother Road," Route66, and a fine collection of museums that foster the arts of Native America and the world.
Oklahoma's unique essence is distilled from many sources: the frontier cadences kept alive in its literature, the rhythms of powwow drums, the soulful twang of country and western, the soaring improvisations of jazz pioneers like Chet Baker. Creative energy runs high in this young state, and its artists are just hitting their stride.