Scott Ellison Enters Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame

Editor at Large


Scott Ellison’s got the blues.
And that’s a good thing.
He is a Tulsa musical treasure, a nonpareil purveyor of the art form that traces its roots deep into the Mississippi Delta cotton fields.

He has triple-threat talent – singing, songwriting, guitar playing – and hall of fame celebrity – a 2013 Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame honoree.

He has been a Tulsa nightspot headliner since the mid-1990s when he returned to his hometown from a decade of North America touring and West Coast jamming.

His blues compositions from a decade ago are being reborn today in award-winning television series and star-driven Hollywood films.

The 50-something musician and father of a high school athlete is content and comfortable, far removed from the lyrical pictures he paints in his songs of heartbreak and melancholy.

He sings the blues, but he lives the dream.

Once he was opening for the likes of Leon Russell and Roy Orbison, Buddy Guy and Delbert McClinton, now his music is woven into the fabric of hit TV series such as “Smash” and “Justified.” His songs have been heard in films starring Morgan Freeman – 2007’s “Feast of Love” – and Jeff Bridges – 2005’s “The Amateurs.” The latter also featured former Tulsans Jeanne Tripplehorn and Tim Blake Nelson.

A Los Angeles-based agent maintains and shops a portfolio of some 40 tunes written by Ellison. Several found their way into the background of the drama “Saving Grace,” that aired from 2007 to 2010. Ellison songs also surfaced in other TV series, including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Sister, Sister” and “Santa Barbara.”

Sometimes he knows in advance when his music has been picked up by a television producer. Sometimes he doesn’t.

“You just never know,” he said. “It just comes out of left field.”

One particular Ellison-penned number, “Down, Down Baby,” has been heard in, at last count, 11 movies and television episodes.

Music administrative services – he mentioned Chrysalis, Royalty Network Inc., and – track the usage of songs and collect fees that are paid to song writers in the form of royalties.

“You might not get a check for a year, then you might get three in three months,” Ellison said.

Through such paperwork and statements, Ellison knows that his music has been heard from China to Australia, from Europe to South America.

“I never would have expected it,” he said.

“And I had no idea that anything like this would ever happen.”

Certainly he had no such expectations as a student at Memorial High School, from which he graduated in 1972. But he did have enough musical talent that he gave up playing baseball under coach Tom Mackenna midway of his junior year to concentrate on the guitar.

Today, Ellison watches Memorial athletics where his son, sophomore Taylor, competes on the basketball and baseball teams.

“I love my life,” the bluesman says. “Playing music, raising my son.”

Ellison writes by day, plays by night. His primary writing partners are Chuck Blackwell, Scott Hutchison, Walt Richmond and Charles Tuberville. His gigs take him from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to the Hibiscus Caribbean Bar and Grill, with a litany of Green Country stops in between.

As he celebrated Memorial’s Class 5A basketball state championship with his son at the outset of March Madness, Ellison learned of his election to the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame. The ceremony and induction are scheduled May 25 at Rentiesville, Oklahoma’s widely proclaimed home of the blues.

For a man who makes his living putting his feelings into words, Ellison was rendered well-nigh speechless at the news of his Hall of Fame selection.

“Euphoric,” was all Ellison could manage.

Yet, when Ellison is behind a microphone, guitar in hand, audience at the ready, he is anything but restrained.

He is witty, charming, engaging.

His ebullient personality is surpassed only by his abundant fret skills.

Both have been honed and burnished by years on the road, playing one-nighters on the wrong side of the tracks and weekends in big-city concert halls.

He draws from such experiences as he puts pen to pad, stringing together words and phrases, in rhymes and couplets, his mind and hands working in harmony.

With a new manager, Jerry James, and his own record label, Records, Ellison is confident and prepared to move his career, in his words, “to another level.”

“There are some big things on the horizon,” he said.

He might be singing the blues, but he is one happy musician.

Updated 06-14-2013

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