Ernestine Dillard of Bixby, Oklahoma is perhaps best remembered for her April 23, 1995 performance when she electrified 11,000 mourners and a national television audience with her “God Bless America” vocal arrangement. The medley closed the Oklahoma City Memorial Service honoring the victims of the Murrah Building bombing.
In 1994 Ernestine Dillard ended a 33-year career as a registered nurse—the last two years with the Tulsa County Health Department—to pursue music full time. That same year Dillard won the “American Traditions” competition at Savannah Onstage, an annual music festival in Georgia City. Her performance career since then has included concert appearances at the American Cathedral in Paris; Geneva, Switzerland; the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; Philadelphia’s “Let Freedom Ring” celebration featuring General Colin Powell; the Turner Broadcasting Trumpet Awards during 1996 and 1997 programs in Atlanta, Georgia; and many other prestigious events.
Ernestine Dillard has received further awards and honors because of her community service and work with children.
Interview with Ernestine Dillard
Müllerhaus Legacy Website Team
Date Created: February 6, 2014
Date Published: June 1, 2015
Notes: Recorded by John Erling in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Digital Audio Sound Recording, Non-Music.
Tags: Martin Luther King, B. B. King, Gladys Knight, Rosa Parks, Della Reese, Elvis Presley, Bill Clinton, Kathy Keating, Frank Keating, Oklahoma City Memorial Service, Billy Graham, Simon Estes, Leontyne Price, Nursing