Enid News and Eagle
Horseshoe Road, headlined by Enid native Kyle Dillingham and Waukomis native Peter Markes, will participate in the 16-day American Voices’ American Music Abroad tour in the African country of Liberia.
Last year, the band, which also features Brent Saulsbury, performed on a U.S. State Department tour of Russia, Burma, Korea and Taiwan.
“We are so thrilled to find out that we’ll be sharing Oklahoma roots music with the citizens of Liberia,” Dillingham said. “It’s quite an honor to represent our country, along with our great state.”
American Voices administers the American Music Abroad program on behalf of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. American Voices arranges a series of multi-country cultural exchange programs, including public concerts, interactive performances with local traditional musicians, lecture demonstrations, workshops, jam sessions and media interviews and performances.
Horseshoe Road’s tour will focus on underserved audiences with little or no access to live American musical performances.
“Music is a way of bringing people together, so hopefully through musical diplomacy it will continue to improve the relationship between our two countries and promote a more positive future for Liberia,” Dillingham said.
Highlights of the tour will be a reception performance today hosted by Liberian Ambassador Deborah Malac and a concert at the ambassador’s residence with the president of Liberia to be in attendance.
Teaching events, including workshops with the Liberia Association of Gospel Musical Artists, students of the AGAPE Music Academy and rural high schools and colleges throughout Liberia, are central to the tour’s objective.
Multiple concert performances are planned in remote areas throughout the tour, as well as an appearance on Radio Monrovia’s program “Issue in the Press,” where they’ll discuss the significance of bluegrass music.
The band completed a tour of Thailand in 2008, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy, which commemorated the 175th anniversary of relations between the United States and Thailand. It was the first time an American band had ever performed in four of the five cities they toured.
They also celebrated Oklahoma’s centennial internationally through their performances with a tour of Japan and Thailand, which was filmed as a documentary as part of an official Oklahoma Centennial Project.
Horseshoe Road is the winner of the 2011 International Acoustic Music Awards in the category of country/bluegrass.
Opening for the Oak Ridge Boys was one of the many highlights of 2012, as was sharing the stage with the Charlie Daniels Band in 2013.
Dillingham performs the fiddle and vocals for Horseshoe Road. At age 17, he already had performed twice on the Grand Ole Opry, in Nashville. He has represented the U.S. in performances in more than 29 countries.
In 2008, the University of Central Oklahoma appointed Dillingham as Ambassador in Residence.
“People are a little shocked at first because they’ve never encountered anything like it,” said Dennis Dunham, executive director of international affairs at UCO, of his international trips with Dillingham. “People often expect to be bombarded with information about the university instead of hearing music on the spot.”
Markes is 2014 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year and a lifelong classically and folk-trained musician. He is no stranger to touring the world with his music. Before Horseshoe Road’s formation, Dillingham and Markes performed together in more than 20 countries. During those travels, Markes conducted violin and guitar improvisational master classes in Venezuela, Macedonia and China. Markes is in his 10th year as director of Edmond North High School Orchestra and Oklahoma Youth Orchestra.
Horseshoe Road will arrive back home July 13 and will perform a post-tour concert at 7 p.m. July 17 at the UCO Jazz Lab in Edmond.
“The audience will experience what everyone on our tour experienced, Dillingham said.
To reserve seats to the post-tour Summer Sizzler concert, call the UCO Jazz Lab ticket office at (405) 359-7989.