Work Pals with Wendell

When we were assigned work pals, Amy and I were both intrigued and excited about being matched up with Wendell Sneed. Although we had seen him around the Museum, we didn’t know a lot about him or the work he did at the DMA. Following the meeting, several coworkers also shared their excitement about our partnership with Wendell- sending links that revealed his role in the Dallas jazz and funk scene in the 1960’s and 70s. Although black musicians in Dallas at that time struggled with segregation, Wendell, a drummer, and Roger Boykin, a guitarist, organized the first and only South Dallas Pop Festival and founded Soultex Records.

Wendell with Soul Seven, who performed at the South Dallas Pop Festival.

Wendell with Soul Seven, who performed at the South Dallas Pop Festival.

Today, Wendell, who has worked at the DMA for over twenty years, is the Program Coordinator for Jazz in the Atrium, a free event every Thursday night during which visitors enjoy food, drinks, and live jazz performances. Before we became work pals, we were unfamiliar with the process of how Jazz in the Atrium is organized, but after getting to know Wendell a bit more and enjoying our own night of jazz, we were able to better understand all the hard work that goes into organizing such a lively Museum event.

Jazz in the Atrium brings in large crowds to the Museum every Thursday and as Wendell explained to us, many families and couples have been attending for years. He also revealed that prospective artists often approach him at the event about their interest in performing. Wendell welcomes this interest and invites artists to send him a press pack and a demo. He then does research to find out if the artist is performing in the Dallas area. If they are, he makes an effort to listen to them live. He sometimes he doesn’t let the artists know that he is planning on attending and stands somewhere in the venue where they can’t see him. This helps Wendell to get a good feel for the artists’ ‘true sound.’

Wendell’s favorite part of organizing Jazz in the Atrium is when his chosen artists finally perform. The night that we attended, we had the privilege of listening to jazz artist Breggett Rideau. A 2009 Grammy Nominee for Best Jazz Vocal Album, Breggett is a New Orleans native who now resides in the Dallas area and performs at the DMA multiple times a year.

Wendell welcomes jazz lovers and introduces Breggett Rideau.

Wendell welcomes jazz lovers and introduces Breggett Rideau.

Breggett Rideau impresses the crowd last Thursday night.

Breggett Rideau impresses the crowd last Thursday night.

Throughout the past two months, we have truly enjoyed the time we’ve spent with Wendell. His passion for music is contagious and he enjoys sharing it with everyone he meets. We look forward to learning more from him during the rest of our internship at the DMA and encourage everyone to check out a night of Jazz in the Atrium this holiday season!

Amy and Amelia

Amelia Wood
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching

Amy Elms
McDermott Intern for Visitor Engagement

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