NOLA Music Birthdays: Booker and Poppa Funk | December 17, 2012
credit: Norbert Hess
James Booker 1939-1983
Flamboyant, one-eyed, drug and alcohol dependent, and gay in a time and place that was not tolerant: Booker was an immensely talented pianist and organist. He tutored Harry Connick Jr. and taught Dr. John how to play the organ. He’s been called the “Bayou Maharaja” and “the Piano Prince of New Orleans.” A film about his life and music is in the works, it’s a Kickstarter project that needs funding.
“There’s nobody that could even remotely come close to his piano-playing ability. It can’t be done. I’ve played Chopin Etudes, I’ve done the whole thing, but there is nothing harder than James.”–Harry Connick Jr.
Art Neville 1937
The beloved Poppa Funk is a New Orleans R&B legend. From one of his first bands, the Hawkettes, to the Meters, to the Neville Brothers, and to the present-day Funky Meters, no one lays down the funk like Art Neville.
“…so we play the music for them, to try to make them smile for a little while or make them laugh or dance. That’s great. Can’t really, I can’t explain it. You just feel good. The crowd feels good. I feel good.”–Art Neville