OffBeat magazine, now celebrating 30 years, has always been dedicated to the music of Louisiana. We will celebrate the city’s 300th in song—300 songs chosen from all 300 years of New Orleans’ history. Selections from the earliest African and Caribbean rhythms of Congo Square along with the classical compositions of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Edmund Dédé and others will be included, as will the ragtime and early piano jazz of Storyville, including New Orleans’ own Tony Jackson. We will explore the rhythm and blues of Ernie K-Doe, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, the Dixie Cups and others. We will go from Louis Armstrong to Big Freedia—any genre, any performer or band, any composer. Composers do not have to be from New Orleans—these are the songs that are emblematic of New Orleans; songs that will always remind you of (or make you miss) New Orleans, or songs that will forever be associated with New Orleans.
Ernie K-Doe once said, “I’m not sure but I’m almost positive that all music came from New Orleans.” From the earliest sounds of jazz to the rock ’n’ roll recorded at J&M Music Shop to our homegrown geniuses, Dave Bartholomew, Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint, New Orleans music is the heartbeat of America. It’s clear that the city of New Orleans’ is intertwined with its music. Music is what tells the story of New Orleans. Ellen DeGeneres once asked: What’s New Orleans without music?
We’ll get suggestions from our readers, writers and others, and vet the suggestions until we’ve culled it down to 300 “essential” New Orleans songs. We’ll publish the songs in the magazine, and also compile them online, with links to great performances of each one and brief histories of the tunes.
Sponsored by the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, we’ll also be partnering with local radio and television stations, the New Orleans Jazz Museum and more to publish in print and throughout the year 2018.