Robin Barnes & Friends Present: The Past, Present & Future of African American Musicians in New Orleans
? The Pythian Building was once the “center of black life” in New Orleans; it was where a young Louis Armstrong played, where black-owned businesses began and operated, and where The Louisiana Weekly was founded. The building was originally commissioned in 1908 by Smith W. Green, a former slave who became a successful businessman and who was the leader of the Knights of Pythias. In here, many stories that are important to the history of our city began, and after decades of being closed to the public, the Pythian Building is back and ready to be the birthplace of more stories & storytelling.
? Music comes back to the Pythian Market with Robin Barnes Music, an award-winning powerhouse vocalist and Billboard charting jazz artist.
As a New Orleans native, Robin is honored to host a panel of her close friends and distinguished New Orleans musicians at the Pythian Market to celebrate Black History Month. As one of the city of New Orleans’ biggest cultural ambassadors, she proudly carries the official distinction of the “Songbird of New Orleans.” Robin’s flourishing career spans from television music composing to prominent features in outlets such as Forbes and MTV.
Meet the Panelists:
– Bill Summers – To say that Bill Summers is a percussionist is like saying a Steinway is a piano: the noun conveys none of the history and quality of the owner of the title. Summers is a musician of the highest order, playing anything from traditional African instruments to pop bottles, and a cultural visionary who brings diverse people and ideas together. Whether working with Quincy Jones on the musical score for Roots, or the soundtrack to The Color Purple, or interpreting the music of the holiday Kwanza, Summers is cognizant of his heritage and its many contributions to world culture. The success of multi-award-winning Los Hombres Calientes owes much to the knowledge of the seasoned Summers, R&B star (with “Call It What You Want” in 1981), veteran of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, who knows literally hundreds of African, Cuban & Latin percussion rhythms from decades of study.
– Nicholas Payton – Multi-instrumentalist, composer and trumpet master, Nicholas Payton is one of the most important artists working and recording today. A virtuoso before he was out of high school, his talent and skills have earned him praise and accolades and ensured his place in musical history. Spanning a multitude of musical genres, Payton has composed and arranged, performed and recorded with his own groups in many settings, including solo, duo, trio, quartet, quintet, sextet, 21-piece big band, as well as his 2012 full orchestral work The Black American Symphony. Payton is the president of his own successful independent label Paytone Records. The latest project is the Afro-Caribbean Mixtape where he seamlessly merges contemporary music, African rhythms, and the voices of historical figures with a performance and execution that is unmatched.
Payton was born into a musical family in New Orleans, Louisiana. He showed talent for music at a very early age. He received his first trumpet at age 4 and by age 9 was sitting in with local bands including the Young Tuxedo Brass Band. By the age of 12, he was a member of the All-Star Brass Band that performed and toured extensively. As he developed and studied, Nicholas successfully learned how to play several instruments. In addition to being an accomplished trumpeter, Nicholas plays piano, bass, drums, tuba, trombone, clarinet and saxophone, et al. During his high school years, Payton attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts to study with Clyde Kerr Jr. and after graduation attended the University of New Orleans where he studied with Harold Battiste and Ellis Marsalis, among others.
– DJ Soul Sister – From the record stacks to the book stacks, New Orleans’ DJ Soul Sister is the “queen of rare groove” who showcases her love for soulful music as a DJ artist, historian, and researcher. Having collected her favorite soulful music on vinyl since she was six years old, Melissa A. Weber has amassed a collection of thousands of LPs, and often utilizes them as primary sources for her music research as an M.A. candidate in musicology at Tulane University, at her presentations at music-based academic conferences throughout the U.S., and in various articles and liner notes projects. As a veteran radio programmer on WWOZ FM for 25 years, she is the host and founder of the popular “Soul Power,” the longest-running rare groove radio show in the U.S. She also hosts her own monthly music show on Red Bull Radio, called “Lost and Found with DJ Soul Sister.” As a live DJ artist, she has performed extensively both in New Orleans and throughout the U.S. and overseas. She has also opened for her favorite artists, including George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, Teena Marie, Maceo Parker, Tower of Power, Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers, Questlove, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and many more. Her sets feature only the soulful music she collects on vinyl and loves: funk, soul, rare groove, underground disco, jazz fusion, true school hip hop, and more. She is the first DJ, man or woman, to ever win a Big Easy Entertainment Award (2010 and 2017), and has won OffBeat Magazine’s Best of the Beat Award practically every year since 2010. She was included in Nelson George’s documentary Finding the Funk, which aired on VH1, and in the book Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting, and hosts a live talk show and podcast, in cooperation with Ace Hotel New Orleans, called “Message is the Music.”
– Mia Borders – Born and raised in New Orleans, Mia Borders’ powerhouse vocals and charismatic songwriting have made her a perennial figure in the regional music scene. Heralded locally and nationally as one of the city’s best talents, Borders has been featured on AXS.tv’s coverage of The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and has performed at such renowned venues as Essence Festival, Brazil’s Bourbon Street Music Festival, House of Blues New Orleans, Tipitina’s, Santa Cruz Blues Fest, Chattanooga’s Night Fall, Voice of the Wetlands, Memphis’ Levitt Shell, Wakarusa, Long’s Park Amphitheater, 2012 Food & Wine Classic, and The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. She has shared bills with B.B. King, Corinne Bailey Rae, Lee Fields, and Marc Broussard, among others.
Join us on February 13th at 6PM for a panel discussion on where African American musicians have been, where they are now and where they’re headed.