Louisiana Museum Plans: The Life of Professor Longhair, His Legacy

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — An exhibit on the life and legacy of the New Orleans pianist known as Professor Longhair will open next month at a state museum near the State Capitol in Louisiana.

Henry Roeland Byrd had a great influence on New Orleans music. His hits include “Tipitina”, “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” and “Big Chief”.

“Professor Longhair was the baddest,” David Kunian, curator of the exhibit that opened April 19 at the Capitol Park Museum, said in a press release from the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. “All the pianists in New Orleans and elsewhere have bowed at his feet, worshiped at his altar, smoked his pipe, eaten his okra, and seen his Zulu queen on Rampart and Dumaine.

The exhibition, which will run until August 6, will explore Byrd’s early life and development, his early success, his return to the 1970s, his untimely death and his musical legacy.

Kunian, curator of music at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, created the exhibit in 2018 to commemorate the centennial of Professor Longhair’s birth on December 19, 1918, in Bogalusa. The exhibit has been updated for display at the Capitol Park Museum, the department said.

It’s called “Me Got Fiyo: The Professor Longhair Centennial”.

The museum will host a variety of programs in conjunction with the exhibit, including a “Women in the Blues” panel discussion on April 21.

The Capitol Park Museum was founded in 2007 as part of the Louisiana State Museum. It sits across the park from the Capitol Building and houses 500,000 artifacts that showcase the state’s history and culture.

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