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Spotlight on History

Louisiana Music on Folks



Earlier in the year, LPB made 210 episodes of Folks, a minority affairs program that aired from 1981-1990, freely available for streaming here on the LDMA.  The series highlighted issues related to African Americans and other minority groups in Louisiana, as well as lighter stories highlighting the state’s unique culture.  Louisiana music was one of the major topics featured on the series. Check out performances and interviews with stars from a variety of Louisiana musical genres here:




Bluesman Tabby Thomas


The Soul of Music (1982)

Travel around Louisiana for a tour of black musical genres, including zydeco in Cecilia, the blues in Baton Rouge, traditional jazz in New Orleans, and gospel in Shreveport.



Pianist Henry Gray


The Rhythm of the River (1983)

Explore the roots of the blues and jazz, including performances by blues pianist Henry Gray, blues guitarist Silas Hogan, and jazz musician Alvin Batiste. 



Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans


Jazz in Louisiana (1983)

Enjoy a visit to Preservation Hall in New Orleans and a profile of the Southern University Jazz Ensemble in Baton Rouge led by Alvin Batiste.  



Clifton Chenier at Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Festival


Zydeco Festival (1984)

Learn more about the history of zydeco and the importance of Clifton Chenier to the genre during this visit to the Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Festival in Plaisance.




Jazz Great Dizzy Gillespie


Dizzy Gillespie (1985)

Watch jazz great Dizzy Gillespie guest conduct a rehearsal of the Southern University Jazz Band in Baton Rouge as they prepare for a performance of his music.




The Zion Travelers


The Zion Travelers (1985)

View a profile of the Zion Travelers, a gospel singing group from Baton Rouge, including highlights of their performance at the Louisiana Folklife Festival.



Ellis Marsalis


Ellis Marsalis (1985)

See a profile Ellis Marsalis, a jazz pianist, music teacher at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and father of Branford and Wynton Marsalis.



Opera Singer Martina Arroyo


Martina Arroyo (1986)

View a profile of Martina Arroyo, a world-renowned opera singer and a visiting professor at the Louisiana State University School of Music.



Frances Ellis-Marsh performing spirituals


Art of the Spiritual (1987) 

Watch Frances Ellis-Marsh, a dramatic soprano and the chairwoman of vocal music at Southern University, perform several spirituals accompanied by pianist Frank White.


Jazz musician Joe Sample


Joe Sample (1987)

See an interview and highlights of a performance by jazz pianist Joe Sample, a Louisiana native, during his visit to Southern University in Baton Rouge.




Opera Singer Lenora Lafayette


Lenora Lafayette (1988)

View a profile of the late opera singer Lenora Lafayette of Baton Rouge, the first African American to perform at the Royal Opera House in London, England, in 1953.


Blues musician Kenny Neal


Kenny Neal (1988)

Watch an interview with Kenny Neal, a blues musician from Baton Rouge, where he discusses the importance of carrying on the blues tradition and his growth as a songwriter.



Jazz musician Alvin Batiste


Alvin Batiste (1989)

See a profile of Alvin Batiste, a jazz clarinetist, who discusses his recent albums and his return as the director of the Southern University Jazz Institute in Baton Rouge.



Musician Allen Toussaint


Allen Toussaint (1989)

View a profile of Allen Toussaint, a songwriter and musician from New Orleans, who discusses his recent performance at Festival International in Lafayette and his new album.




To see more stories, check out the Louisiana music topic, the Folks series, and a past blog post on Louisiana music.