“The Fugitive Mama” by Dawn Black
THE MUSIC OF LOUISIANA: THE NEW OA V. OLD SMIRNOFF
As with the music of all Southern states (only more so), the music of Louisiana proliferates with vivid life in every cool genre—and swarms with a dizzying range of superstars. Some names: Louis Armstrong, Irma Thomas, Buddy Guy, Allen Toussaint, The Meters, The Neville Brothers, Louis Prima, Jerry Lee Lewis, Memphis Minnie (born Lizzie Douglas in Algiers, she really should have been called Louisiana Lizzie), Randy Newman, Jelly Roll Morton—but stop quick or you’ll go batty trying to not forget every Hall of Fame-worthy Louisiana artist.
WARWICK SABIN AND HIS NEW OA LOVE WHITE MEN
I also hope that you will consider “Smirnoff’s Online Funky Old School Louisiana Music Mix” a worthy rejoinder, a sane alternative, to the New Oxford American’s current CD of Louisiana music, which is an utterly appalling collection mainly for the reason that out of twenty-one (21) slots, the white male leadership of The New OA leadership condescends to give just three (3) slots to women.
(I used to be editor of The Oxford American and, until 2012, all of the CDs that The OA released—13—either were compiled, or co-compiled, by me.)
One doesn’t have to be a knee-jerk feminist to be insulted by the low number of women represented on The New OA’s CD. To ignore the vast contributions of women when studying, or presenting, Louisiana music is not just vapid but is, culturally speaking, the worst sin of all: boring.
The New Oxford American white male brain-trust (Publisher Warwick Sabin, Chairman of the Board Dick Massey, New Editor Roger Hodge, New Music Issue Editor Alex Rawls, New CD Music Compiler Rick Clark, New Contributing Editor Wes Enzinna, New Editorial Assistant Walker Beauchamp) should be profoundly ashamed of their collective denial of the cultural contributions of the women of Louisiana.
And women are out!
(Note to women: With regards to The New OA? You are out, out, out, out!)
You would think that New “Guest Music Issue Editor” Alex Rawls would be sensitive to the issue of women and Louisiana music. As a New Orleans resident and the previous editor of a renowned Louisiana publication called OffBeat, he was in charge of running a piece this past spring about the CD release of Ingrid Lucia Presents New Orleans Female Vocalists (which I recommend, by the way).
Lucia, that CD’s compiler, is a very talented contemporary artist who knows well the essential contribution of women to Louisiana’s music. “There is not a single compilation out there that represents any of the female vocalists [of New Orleans, and, by extension, Louisiana] that are either living or dead,” Lucia told Rawls’s OffBeat. “People ask about it all the time and there’s nothing there.”
SMIRNOFF’S ODDBALL MUSICAL PREDILECTIONS
As for my online “Funky Old School” mix of Louisiana tunes, first and foremost let me own up to this: I know I have weaknesses and biases as a music compiler and therefore so does my mix. (I just pray that my musical gaps are not as dreadful as dissing the contributions of women.)
As an Old School vinyl enthusiast, I am very ignorant about a lot of modern music. I cannot pretend otherwise. If you want an insider’s view on the best in contemporary Louisiana music, you have come to the wrong place.
While I have no desire to diss contemporary music (that would be foolish since I actually think musicianship is now better and more widespread than it ever was), I also have no desire to diss the triumphs of the Old School era so let me be clear: I make no apology for my preferences and I’ll argue that knowledge and love of the best of Old School music helps deepen the contemporary scene—and regional pride.
Finally, I’d like to point out that there’s no harm in focusing on Old School music since the coverage of contemporary music is much more popular than what I do. One could even say that by attending to Old School issues I am not taking away from the current discussion of music but adding to it.
When I was leading The Oxford American Music Issue series, I tried to stress this truth about the CDs that we released: there was no way that a single CD could be comprehensive about Southern music or a Southern state’s music.
The aim of the Southern Music presentations I led—and the aim of my new online Louisiana Music experiment—is to suggest that researching/probing/digging into both a musical genre and a state’s musical legacy causes divine happiness.
(Note: EditorsinLove.com might come out with a part two in 2013—there is still so much more divine but neglected Louisiana music to share. If you want that to happen on this site, please feel free to send a note to me at email@example.com. Also: I’m keen to learn of any super-obscure Louisianans of acute musical genius you want to tell me about, but please challenge me. I already know who Professor Longhair and Johnny Adams and Dr. John are.)
Thank you for listening!