New Orleans Nightcrawlers
"A Louisiana GRAMMY Celebration" Honors the State's Musical Legacy With Special Performances & A Big Announcement
When it comes to GRAMMY history, it's hard to find a state with more roots than Louisiana. The Bayou State's GRAMMY presence dates back to the inaugural ceremony in 1959, where New Orleans swing star Louis Prima and Shreveport-born pianist Van Cliburn were among the first artists to receive golden gramophones. And the GRAMMYs wouldn't be the GRAMMYs without New Orleans native Jay Danna, who won a national contest to decide the name of the award as a teenager.
Louisiana's musical legacy continues into 2021, as 16 of its stars are nominated for GRAMMYs this year, including Jay Electronica, Jon Batiste, Harry Connick Jr., and Lucinda Williams. On Tuesday, March 9, a few of the 2021 nominees—as well as four storied Louisiana cities—were highlighted during a special GRAMMY Week event, A Louisiana GRAMMY Celebration.
The 30-minute virtual event first saw a visit to the Music Box Village in New Orleans, where the New Orleans Nightcrawlers performed their song "Gentilly Groove." After nearly 30 years together, the 10-piece brass band are celebrating their first GRAMMY nomination: Their fifth LP, Atmosphere, is up for Best Regional Roots Album.
"It's a pretty exciting culture that's been alive for a long time," founding member Matt Perrine, who plays the sousaphone, said of brass bands. "It makes you want to dance—it's the first dance music. It lives in the feet of the people who listen to it."
The next stop was Lafayette, just west of New Orleans. Another Best Regional Roots Album nominee, Sweet Cecilia, took the stage at Lafayette's famed Blue Moon Saloon for a performance of their tune "Dans La Louisiane." The song is on A Tribute to Al Berard, their album that features songs written by the late father of two of Sweet Cecilia's members (Laura Huval and Maegan Berard are sisters) and is nominated for Best Regional Roots Music Album at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show. Every track on the album is sung in Cajun French, a first for the group that makes for a unique fusion with their country sound. "It was kind of like bringing us back to our roots, which was incredibly special for us," said Huval.
Next, blues icon Bobby Rush, who received his sixth GRAMMY nomination this year, discussed what his genre means to him. "Music, to me, it opened up all doors, and it gave me a way out of everything," Rush said. "In times of trouble, when times are tough, times are hard, when I don't know where to go or what to do, I pick my guitar up and shut myself up in the bedroom and sing to myself… That's what the blues is all about. What's in you, gotta come out of you."
Rush performed from the Delta Music Museum in Ferriday, Louisiana, a town known for its contributions to blues music thanks to the now-defunct lounge Haney’s Big House. Sporting a velvet blue blazer, Rush sang his song "Let Me In Your House," a track from his 2020 album, Rawer Than Raw, which is nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show.
The Louisiana GRAMMY Celebration closed out from Shreveport's Municipal Auditorium, a historic venue that has hosted greats from Elvis Presley to Jimi Hendrix. Five-time GRAMMY nominee Kenny Wayne Shepherd and 2010 nominee Buddy Flett teamed up for a stripped-down version of their collaboration "Dance For Me Girl," a track featured on Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band's album Live! In Chicago, which earned them both a GRAMMY nomination in 2010.
"It's always meaningful to be recognized by your peers," Shepherd said of being GRAMMY-nominated. "We work so hard; everybody pours their heart and soul into their music. And as artists, you just kind of want people to love it. There's nothing bigger than being acknowledged by the GRAMMYs ... It certainly carries a lot of weight and it's very meaningful to a lot of artists."
To cap off the night's event, Lt. Governor of Louisiana Billy Nungesser announced the development of the Louisiana Music Trail. Though he didn't specify through where the trail will pass, Nungesser did declare that it will "create an educational and musical experience for all visitors, especially those interested in tapping their feet to the unique sounds of our amazing music."
You can watch the full celebration on the GRAMMY Museum's official streaming service, COLLECTION:live. The video will be free and all-access for anyone who clicks into COLLECTION.live for 30 days after each event. For more videos, sign up for COLLECTION.live. Stay tuned to GRAMMY.com throughout the week for more special content from the 2021 GRAMMY Week events, including the 63rd GRAMMY Awards airing live on CBS this Sunday, March 14.
Head to louisianasoundtrack.com to learn more about the state's musical origins.