The excesses of the Carnival season are over. So this week, we're playing sacred music with a foothold in Louisiana. Some songs are religious. Some are not. But they're guaranteed to help you get ready for Easter, or Passover, or whatever day you have circled on the calendar.
Mahalia Jackson, John Boutté, Branford Marsalis, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint and Davell Crawford are in the mix. And so is the brass band that wants to know, "Whatcha gonna do for the rest of your life? Whatcha gonna do to make it right?"
Al 'Carnival Time' Johnson performs with New Orleans All-Star R&B Revue hosted by Deacon John at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at the Fair Grounds Race Course on April 26, 2009 in New Orleans. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
On this Fat Tuesday, the music of Mardi Gras will ring through the streets of New Orleans — during parades, at bars and from residents’ homes.
Producer and DJ George Ingmire of WWOZ in New Orleans tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson two quintessential Mardi Gras songs are “Mardi Gras Mambo” by the Hawketts and “Carnival Time” by Al “Carnival Time” Johnson.
Professor Longhair's house has been saved. Now, last year we brought you a story about the piano legend and the nationwide effort to rebuild his home following Hurricane Katrina. Henry Roeland Byrd, better known as Professor Longhair, is widely considered to be the father of modern New Orleans music. He died in 1980, but at carnival time especially, it's evident that Professor Longhair's influence endures. Now, his house will too. Gwen Thompkins brings us this story of music and more.
Samba isn't just for the musicians who work the scene in Rio. Singer Maria Rita is from São Paulo in southern Brazil; she recorded a samba album several years ago and will release a second this spring.
Credit Tribo Productions
Samba singer Julio Estrela performs with his band at the Carioca da Gema club in Rio de Janeiro.
The name that our musical guests have most consistently mentioned is Professor Longhair. It began, well, at the beginning. Longhair, whose friends call him Fess, figured into the very first answer from the very first guest on the very first Music Inside Out.
Since then, others have conjured his name when describing the best of New Orleans music. As it turns out, Longhair — who died in 1980 — remains a guiding spirit to musicians and music lovers everywhere. So as a matter of duty and privilege, we’re spreading the joy.
In a mobile classroom — basically a trailer outfitted with a desk and some chairs — music teacher Chris Miller works with a group of active kindergartners dressed in green and khaki school uniforms. He teaches them the basics: musical concepts, artists and styles of music.
"Everybody repeat after me," he says. "Wade in the water." Kids sing back, "Wade in the water."