professor longhair

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Eileen Fleming / WWNO

The descendants of New Orleans’ renowned rhythm and blues pianist Professor Longhair will soon be back in their Central City house again. A major renovation has made it possible for his family and fans to have a permanent home.

The Stooges Brass Band welcomed dozens of people attending the unveiling of Professor Longhair’s house.

The one and only home ever purchased by the music legend has been renovated. His daughter, Pat Byrd, and grandson Ardell, are moving back in this week.

Shanna Riley

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.

Tell Me More's 'Summer Songs' series samples new versions of old classics. This week, Gwen Thompkins, host of WWNO's Music Inside Out, shares a daughter's rendition of her father's song: Henry Roeland 'Professor Longhair' Byrd's Cry to Me.

On the tough side of Terpsichore Street in New Orleans stands a duplex — a two-story, wood-framed building with wood floors, high ceilings and a nice fireplace. But this old house is empty: no furniture, no walls, no electricity, no toilet. Iron bars hide the windows; there's a lockbox on the door. The facade is three different shades of blecch, blurgh and blah.

This year, 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.