Legendary pianist, singer and composer Allen Toussaint is about as synonymous with the city of New Orleans and its rich musical culture as anyone the city ever produced. Born in the Crescent City and raised in a shotgun house in Gert Town, Toussaint rose through the ranks of the city’s music world. He wrote countless hit songs which were recorded by a bevy of different artists, produced hundreds of records, and created a steady stream of hits over the years, earning the unanimous respect of both artists and listeners in New Orleans and beyond. Following his death, the New Orleans City Council unanimously decided to name January 14th, Toussaint’s birthday, an official holiday in the Big Easy: “Allen Toussaint Day.”
“Our artists and musicians are our ambassadors, as their talents, hard work, and genius creates the culture for which we are internationally known. Their travels share that culture with countless individuals and communities, and their successes and creations infuse our city with a vibrancy and soul unmatched elsewhere in the world. Allen served our city as one of our finest ambassadors,” said Councilmember Susan G. Guidry, the author of the resolution.
A leader in the community as well as in the studio and on stage, Toussaint worked with a virtual who’s who over the past fifty years, including Robert Plant, Paul McCartney, Jerry Garcia, The Meters, Dr. John, Lee Dorsey, and The Band. As Toussaint’s bio explains,
The list of those who have benefited in one way or another from the Toussaint’s touch is staggering in its historic and stylistic range, stretching from the late 1950s to the present day, with no end in sight. His studio productions have sold millions of discs and downloads. His catalog of songs has generated hits on the pop, R&B, country and dance charts…many remain on heavy rotation in various radio formats. His tunes continue to pop up as TV themes and advertising jingles. He has an ever-growing international circle of fans, and though normally reluctant to tour, he’s become a more familiar figure at music festivals and popular nightclubs around the world. He passed away on November 10th, 2015, but not before leaving behind one of the strongest musical legacies of his generation.
For this year’s “Allen Toussaint Day,” which would have marked his 82nd birthday, let us celebrate his exceptional life and career with Touissant’s final New Orleans performance at the Pavilion of Two Sisters City Park alongside “The Soul Queen of New Orleans,” Irma Thomas.
Allen Toussaint w/Irma Thomas – Pavillion of Two Sisters City Park – [Full Show Video]
Happy Allen Toussaint Day!
[Originally published 1/14/16]