Topsy Chapman is one of New Orleans’ most engaging and soulful singers. Her mix of gospel, blues, traditional jazz and swing proves both captivating and uplifting. And, when Topsy Chapman blends her fine voice with those of her daughters Jolynda Phillips and Yolanda Windsay in the vocal trio Solid Harmony, it’s magic.
Wayne Shorter is one of the top saxophonists and composers in jazz. It was, strangely enough, getting caught at 15 years old playing hooky from school that put him on a path into music. His punishment: enrollment in the music theory course at his Newark, NJ arts high school.
Saxophonist, composer and Mardi Gras Indian Chief Donald Harrison, Jr. started learning about Mardi Gras Indian culture firsthand and early.
“The first time I put on a suit was at two years old for the Creole Wild West," Harrison said. I was a little chief of the Creole Wild West. I had on a dark blue and white suit my father made for me. I remember them running and going fast up and down in feathers, flying and singing.”
David Eagan is one of Louisiana's most recorded songwriters. A short list of artists covering his tunes includes Irma Thomas, Marcia Ball, Solomon Burke, Etta James, Joe Cocker, Mavis Staples, John Mayall and Johnny Adams.
Egan grew up in the music-rich environments of 1960s Shreveport.
"You had the whole chitlins-circuit thing," Egan said. "You had the Bossier Strip, which was, of course, somebody's going to write a great book about that someday; just a hotbed of neon and music and vice. All those clubs and everything. And you had the Louisiana Hayride."
Dianne Reeves is one of the finest jazz singers on the planet. Born in Detroit, she grew up in Denver in a family full of musicians.
"There's a lot of musicians in my family," Reeves said. "My uncle is a bassist and he was with the symphony for many years, as well as a jazz bassist. A couple of great aunts were performers, and then I have another cousin who actually produced a lot of my records, George Duke. So music was very much part of the family."