15th Annual American Music Masters Artists

This year's American Music Masters series celebrates the music and legacy of Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew. 

We are fortunate to feature Inductees and other world-class musicians. Read below to find out more about each artist.

Tribute Concert Emcee Wendell Pierce is an American actor who is most famously known for his portrayal of Detective Bunk Moreland on the hit HBO drama The Wire. Pierce was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and attended Benjamin Franklin High School. He starred in all five seasons of the HBO drama The Wire as Detective Bunk Moreland. He was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Support Actor in a Drama Series for the role in 2007. Pierce is helping to rebuild the flood-ravaged Pontchartrain Park neighborhood in New Orleans. The Pontchartrain Park project is at the core of a massive undertaking by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority to acquire and sell 4,500 lots formerly occupied by Katrina-ravaged homes.

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Dave Bartholomew proved himself to be a man of many talents: bandleader, trumpet player, songwriter, producer, arranger, talent scout, businessman, and more. He was also a recording artist, scoring one national R&B hit (“Country Boy,” which went to #14) in 1950. However, it was in his nonperforming roles that Bartholomew had the greatest impact on popular music. One of the key architects of the New Orleans sound, Bartholomew served as a major behind-the-scenes figure in the transition from jump blues and big-band swing to rhythm & blues and rock and roll in the postwar era. In particular, he will forever be revered for his work with Fats Domino, one of the Crescent City’s greatest musicians and a true pioneer in the rock and roll revolution.

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Lloyd Price [Inducted 1998] – widely known as “Mr. Personality” – is among the premier rhythm & blues singers of the Fifties and Sixties.  The Kenner, Louisiana native can also claim a host of other talents: musician, bandleader, songwriter, producer, record-company executive, booking agent, and entrepreneur.  Inspired by the rhythm and blues sounds of Louis Jordan, Price’s rhythm and blues recordings cut for Specialty Records epitomize the New Orleans sound.  His biggest hit, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” – an original song produced by Dave Bartholomew and featuring Fats Domino on piano – topped the R&B charts for seven weeks in 1952.  “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” is a rhythm & blues classic that helped give birth to rock and roll. 

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Trumpeter James Andrews earned the moniker “Satchmo of the Ghetto” growing up in the New Orleans neighborhood of Tremé.   He’s come up through a variety of brass bands (including the Treme Brass Band and the New Birth Brass Band) and has played with Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Danny Barker, Dr. John and Michelle Shocked.  A protégé of soul man Allen Toussaint, Andrews has taken his place alongside of contemporaries swinging the New Orleans tradition in contemporary ways.   Grandson of the late Jessie Hill (of "Ooh-Poo-Pah-Doo" fame), Andrews was born into a musical family.  Andrews’ younger brother, Troy (aka "Trombone Shorty"), is a musical prodigy and rising star on the local and international traditional jazz scene.  His spectacular styling and unique intonations make for evenings of blissful catapulting into a musical era in time no one would want to end.  His recent appearances on HBO’s Treme sparked a fire that rekindled the hearts of many and kept the spirit of New Orleans alive throughout the world over.
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Amadee Castenell is a premier tenor saxophonist and flautist who has been nurtured by 30 years of playing in the rich multi-layered music scene of New Orleans. From 1973- 1983 he was musical director of the band Chocolate Milk, writing and performing on their albums for RCA Records. He has also been an important member of the Allen Toussaint Orchestra for 30 years.

When not touring, Amadee is an in-demand studio musician. Amadee has recorded with legendary artists including Dr. John, Robbie Robertson, Lee Dorsey, and The Neville Brothers. Dave Bartholomew describes Castenell as “a man full of good music…when you see him, you'd say that's a music dictionary. He is music - that's what he loves. I'm not just saying this; this is the way it is." Amadee has released several solo albums on NYNO records, including Amadee and Sax Dreams.
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Raised in Sweden but based in New Orleans for most of her adult life, Theresa Andersson has spent her career mining the sonic roots of both homes, creating lush, soulful pop that has piqued the interest of fans and critics around the globe.  After releasing several independent records over the past decade, Theresa’s most recent album, Hummingbird, GO! (2008), put Theresa on the map, bringing her into the national, and then international spotlight. The Los Angeles Times heralded her as an “Artist to Watch in 2009,” she has been featured on NPR, and she has appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. More recently, Theresa collaborated with Aaron Neville and Carlo Nuccio for “Glory Bound,” a sequel to the famed New Orleans Saints’ anthem “Who Dat”.  She also appears as a guest vocalist on Here Lies Love (2010), an album by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim.

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Born in England and bred in New Orleans, Jon Cleary combines soulful vocals, masterful piano skills, and a knack for composing infectious grooves with melodic hooks and sharp lyrics.   He balances a career performing on solo piano, with noted funk band The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, and his new power trio Piano, Bass & Drums, alongside a career as a notorious hired gun with the likes of Bonnie Raitt and John Scofield.  Cleary is featured on vocals and keyboards on the recently released Piety Street by John Scofield & The Piety Street Band. Cleary has toured with Bonnie Raitt since 1999, and has appeared on the albums Silver Lining and Souls Alike.  On these recordings, Raitt covered the Cleary originals “Fool’s Game,” “Monkey Business,” “Unnecessarily Mercenary,” and “Love on One Condition.”  Cleary has a long list of recording credits with artists such as Taj Mahal, Keb Mo, India Arie, and Ryan Adams. .........................................................................................................................................................

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominee Dr. John, or Mac Rebennack as known to friends and family, is universally celebrated as the living embodiment of the rich musical heritage exclusive to New Orleans.  His colorful musical career began in the 1950s when he wrote and played guitar on some of the greatest records to come out of the Crescent City, including recordings by Professor Longhair, Art Neville, Joe Tex and Frankie Ford.  In the 1960s, Dr. John continued to be in demand as a session musician, playing on records by Sonny and Cher, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones and he developed the charismatic persona of Dr. John The Nite Tripper. 

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Native New Oreleanians the Dixie Cups originally consisted of sisters Barbara and Rosa Hawkins with their cousin, Joan Johnson.  Discovered by singer Joe Jones ("You Talk Too Much") at a talent show, the trio was quickly signed to songwriter-producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s newly launched Red Bird Records.   The Dixie Cup’s recording of "Chapel of Love," written by Geff Barry and Ellie Greenwich with Phil Spector, was released as a single.  The Dixie Cup’s recording of "Chapel of Love” ascended swiftly to #1 in the spring of 1964, knocking The Beatles' "Love Me Do" out of the top spot and earning the girls their first gold record. The Dixie Cups' next release, "People Say," garnered a second gold record for the group.  Other hits would follow, like "You Should Have Seen the Way He Looked At Me," "Little Bell," and the delightful chant "Iko Iko," which, along with "Chapel of Love," have become the group's signature tunes.

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The Lower 9-11 is Dr. John's current backing band featuring Herman Ernest on drums, David Barard on bass, and John Fohl on lead guitar. The Lower 911 were awarded a Grammy alongside Dr. John in 2008 for Best Contemporary Blues Album on City That Care Forgot.

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As a top New Orleans studio musician, Robert Parker's saxophone can be heard on hits songs such as “Rockin’ Pneumonia” by Huey “Piano” Smith, “Just a Dream” by Jimmy Clanton, “Skinny Legs” by Joe Tex and “Sea Cruise” by Frankie Ford.  During his prolific career, Parker has also recorded with Little Richard and Professor Longhair. In the summer of 1966, his R&B hit “Barefootin’” shot to #1 on the Billboard charts.  The song has become a classic, selling over ten million copies and recorded by over fifty artists, including Wilson Pickett and Johnny Winter.

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Simply put, The Rebirth Brass Band is a New Orleans institution. Formed in 1983 by the now infamous Frazier brothers, the band has evolved from playing the streets of the French Quarter to playing festivals and stages all over the world. Rebirth is committed to upholding the tradition of brass bands while at the same time incorporating modern music into their show. Their signature brand of brass funk has won over several generations of music lovers, and in a post-Katrina world, their name and music have become the   soundtrack to their musically rich hometown. In the wake of the sometimes-stringent competition amongst brass bands, Rebirth is the undisputed leader of the pack, and they show no signs of slowing down.

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Irma Thomas first achieved prominence with a string of 1960s hits such as “Time Is On My Side,” (later covered by the Rolling Stones), “It’s Raining” and “Wish Someone Would Care.”  Later in her career, Irma rebuilt her reputation as The Soul Queen of New Orleans, eventually signing with Rounder in 1986. After The Rain, recorded in rural Maurice, Louisiana only weeks after Katrina, won Irma her first Grammy®.  Thomas has also earned Grammy® nominations for her live album Simply the Best! (1991), her collaboration with Marcia Ball and Tracy Nelson, Sing It! (1998), and, most recently, Simply Grand (2008).  In 2009, she was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. 

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Toots and the Maytals, originally called simply The Maytals, are considered legends of ska and reggae music. Their sound is a unique, original combination of gospel, ska, soul, reggae and rock. In Kingston, Jamaica, Toots met Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” McCarthy.  Eventually naming themselves the Maytals, the vocal trio recorded their first album, Never Grow Old – presenting the Maytals, for producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd at Studio One in 1962-63 (with musical backing from the legendary Skatalites).  Recording at Island Records, the group released three best-selling albums, and enjoyed international hits with Funky Kingston in 1973 and Reggae Got Soul in 1976.  In the late 1970s, The Specials included “Monkey Man” on their 1979 debut album and The Clash produced their version of “Pressure Drop.”  Toots received another Grammy nomination for his 2008 release Light Your Light. In recent years Toots has toured with The Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews, Sheryl Crow and Los Lonely Boys.  On April 20, 2010, Flip & Twist was released on Toot’s own D & F Music label. 

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Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is one of the rare artists with the virtuosity to draw the unqualified respect of some of the most iconic legends in jazz and the ability to deliver a high-energy funk rock show capable of mesmerizing international rock stars.  A product of New Orleans' culturally rich Treme neighborhood, Trombone Shorty was a bandleader by the age of six.  Now, at 23, Trombone Shorty has grown into a performer who commands the stage while emanating an elegance and class gleaned from his successful studies at the prestigious New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts.  As a graduate, he joined the ranks of alums like Branford Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr., and Nicholas Payton.  In 2009, New Orleans' premier music magazine, Offbeat, awarded Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue Best R&B/Funk Band for the second year in a row.  Trombone Shorty himself picked up an award for Best Trumpet and he has been named Performer of The Year twice.  Trombone Shorty has been profiled by Good Morning America and USA Today and has been featured the 2007 album Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino and the 2008 NBA All-Star game in New Orleans.

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Special Guest

From his college days as a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to his Chairmanship of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Julian Bond has been an active participant in the movements for civil rights, economic justice, and peace and an aggressive spokesman for the disinherited.
 
As an activist who has faced jail for his convictions, a veteran of more than 20 years of service in the Georgia General Assembly, a writer, teacher, and lecturer, Bond has been on the cutting edge of social change since he was a college student leading sit-in demonstrations in Atlanta in 1960. He was one of several hundred students from across the South who helped to form SNCC in 1960, and shortly became SNCC’s Communications Director, heading the organization’s printing and publicity departments, editing the SNCC newsletter, The Student Voice, and working in voter registration drives in rural Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

Bond ultimately served four terms in the House and six terms in the Senate. In addition to holding honorary degrees from 23 schools, Time Magazine named Bond on its 200 Leaders list.  Among his many publications, a collection of Bond’s essays has been published under the title A Time To Speak, A Time To Act.  He is currently a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the American University in Washington, D.C., and a Professor at the University of Virginia in the Department of History, where he is co-director of Explorations in Black Leadership.  Bond is also Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP.