Art Porter Sr.
Mr. Art Porter was born Arthur Lee Porter, February 8, 1934 to Eugene and Lillie Porter in Little Rock, Arkansas. Art’s family also included an older brother, Eugene. He attended the local public schools and received a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from UAPB (formerly A.M. & N College). He earned a Master’s degree from Henderson State University and studied further at the University of Illinois in Urbana and the University of Texas at Austin.
Art’s music education began with his mother at age 5, and then to private instruction by Mrs. Hazel Hynson. He began playing in church at age 8, and had a classical recital at age 12. By age 14, he was pianist for many community activities and had his own 30-minute classical music radio program on KLRA.
Art Porter, the quintessential community artist, never officially worked as a touring musician, choosing instead to perform, teach, contribute to his church as well as to other charitable causes, and raise a family in his hometown. He did, however, take time to play for FESTAC 1977 (The World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture) in Lagos, Nigeria, and at jazz festivals in Belgium, Germany, and The Netherlands in 1991. Art’s influence on the Little Rock and Arkansas music and arts scene-through the 1971-1981 broadcasts of AETN (Arkansas Educational Television Network) program, “The Minor Key”: A Portrait of Black Culture in Arkansas”, and his formation in 1976 of the still-performing Art Porter Singers, is being felt even now.
In his own words and work, Art Porter powerfully defined a meaningful existence: “The most important thing music has given me over the years has been the understanding that there are many viewpoints and opinions about any matter and one is as valid as the other, especially in playing jazz and a particular song. Musicians improvise on the same melody and they’re all saying something different and they’re all correct I transfer that tolerance to every aspect of life”.