Keeping the Music Alive

“Playing in that band would mold my life. I had no idea back then that I would actually become a musician.” – Harold Battiste, Unfinished Blues: Memoirs of a New Orleans Music Man

Harold Battiste

Harold Battiste

When Harold Battiste began playing clarinet in the school band at New Orleans’ Gilbert Academy, he initiated a lifetime of musical innovation and accomplishments. As the founder of All for One (AFO) Records, the first African American musician-owned record label, Battiste has documented the second fifty years of New Orleans jazz by recording some of the top musical talent in the Crescent City. Apart from his AFO work, Mr. Battiste has played with and arranged or produced works from such artists as Sam Cooke, Dr. John, Tom Waits, Sonny and Cher, and others.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of AFO Records, as well as completion of the processing of the Harold R. Battiste Papers at the Amistad Research Center. In celebration of both events, Amistad is presenting the exhibition Harold Battiste: Keeping the Music Alive from January 18 through March 31, 2011 in the Center’s Exhibition Gallery. Highlighting Mr. Battiste’s career and his many musical associations, the exhibition includes letters, photographs, musical scores, AFO business records, phonograph records, and other highlights drawn mainly from his papers.

The Harold R. Battiste Papers measure 39 linear feet and include correspondence, personal and family records, photographs, collected publications and news clippings, records related to Mr. Battiste’s teaching career at the University of New Orleans, and audiovisual materials. Also included are business records related to AFO Records and other music-related relationships led by Battiste, as well as an extensive collection of scores, copyright notices, and other records of works authored, arranged, or produced by Mr. Battiste.

Please join us in celebrating Mr. Battiste’s and AFO’s efforts to “keep the music alive.”


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