BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — An exhibit about the life and legacy of the New Orleans pianist known as Professor Longhair will open next month at a state museum near the Louisiana state Capitol.
Henry Roeland Byrd was a great influence on New Orleans music. His hits include “Tipitina,” “Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” and “Big Chief,.”
“Professor Longhair was the baddest,” said David Kunian, curator of the exhibit opening April 19 at the Capitol Park Museum, said in a news release from the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. “All pianists in New Orleans and beyond bowed down to his feet, worshipped at his altar, smoked his peace pipe, ate his gumbo, and saw his Zulu Queen on Rampart and Dumaine.”
The exhibit, running through Aug. 6, will explore Byrd’s early life and development, his first hits, 1970s comeback, untimely death and musical legacy.
Kunian, music curator at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, created the exhibition in 2018 to commemorate the centennial of Professor Longhair’s birth on Dec. 19, 1918, in Bogalusa. The exhibit has been updated for display at Capitol Park Museum, the department said.
It’s titled “Me Got Fiyo: The Professor Longhair Centennial.”
The museum will host a variety of programs in conjunction with the exhibition, 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’s across the park from the Capitol building and houses 500,000 artifacts that showcase the state’s history and culture.