Friday, 01 April 2011 14:53

Louisiana Music Should Be Money To Our Ears

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Louisiana Music Hall Of FameAs I travel around the state, I find that folks in New Orleans don't know the great musical artists of Shreveport, and conversely so. Mention Allen Toussaint in Shreveport, and you get about the same reaction as mentioning James Burton in New Orleans. What's up with that?

Yet, mention either artist in, say, Green Bay, Wisconsin, and they are both recognized. Europeans know all about Louisiana's music. That's how the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, Led Zeppelin, etc. got started: emulating Louisiana artists and music.

Apparently we can't "see the forest for the trees." Louisiana is so gifted with amazing musicians that they, and their great music, tend to become "assumed." In many ways, eclectic or unusual musical genres tend to get more attention than "plain old" rock & roll or rhythm & blues, for instance.

Here at home, we find the state spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing a film industry, where none existed, but only tens, or at best, hundreds of thousands developing a music industry, from the greatest talent pool and the most incredible track record of successes anywhere.

We may be missing something.

Just a week ago, meeting with an elected state official, I was told that promoting Louisiana's music wasn't among the approved uses for BP's recent $6.5 million state promotion fund. Yet every time I hear an ad for our food or our scenic beauty, it's (rightfully) accompanied by Jazz, Cajun, Zydeco, R&B, Rock'n'Roll, Country, you know, Louisiana music, by Louisiana artists.

So, we should only use our highly recognized and enjoyed music to promote Louisiana's other assets, not to promote Louisiana music itself?

I think it may be time for an adjustment in priority, or just plain thinking in general, about the importance of Louisiana's music and artists, to Louisiana.

Author Mike Shepherd is the President & Executive Director of La Musique de Louisianne Inc., The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame, a 501c3 dedicated to "preserving Louisiana's greatest renewable natural resource"

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