New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Today all of New Orleans is abuzz with excitement. The day that locals, tourists, and jazz enthusiasts alike have all been (rather impatiently) waiting for has finally arrived, and the entrance gates of the New Orleans Fair Grounds are spread wide to welcome us to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival!
A Brief History
In 1970, jazz impressario George Wein was hired to create a festival unique to the city of New Orleans, LA. When announcing the inaugural festival, Wein said,”The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival represents a new and exciting idea in festival presentation. This festival could only be held in New Orleans because here and here alone is the richest musical heritage in America.”
The 1970 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival brought together the likes of Mahalia Jackson, Duke Ellington, Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, Clifton Chenier, Fats Domino, The Meters, The Preservation Hall Band, parades every day with The Olympia Brass Band and Mardi Gras Indians among others. Although only 350 people attended the first “Jazz Fest,” the festival quickly developed into a cultural event synonymous with the spirit of New Orleans.
By 1972, the event had outgrown the confines of Congo Square and relocated to the New Orleans Fair Grounds (the 3rd oldest racetrack in the United States). Two years later, the festival introduced its first limited-edition silkscreen poster, now produced annually and recognized as the most popular poster series in the world.
The 1990′s saw the popularity and significance of Jazz Fest soar–the New York Times would write that the festival had “become inseparable from the culture it presents,” and in 2001, the Jazz Fest celebrated the centennial of Louis Armstrong with a total of over 650,000 attendees.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival annually hosts a blend of local talent and internationally renown performers and “continues to celebrate the culture of Louisiana with the combined fervor of a gospel hymn and the joy of a jazz parade.”
Happy Jazz Fest, Wolf Pack!
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