Sunday, January 23, 2011

Our mayor sings, of course

Mayor Mitch Landrieu sings the praises of New Orleans

Published: Saturday, January 22, 2011, 11:00 AM     Updated: Saturday, January 22, 2011, 6:36 PM
Times-Picayune Staff By Times-Picayune Staff 
There's a bit of the performer in most politicians -- some more than others.
mitch_landrieu_mardi_gras_indians.jpgView full sizeMayor Mitch Landrieu was photographed singing 'Indian Red' with Big Chief Alfred Womble of the Cheyenne Uptown New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians tribe, left, and Brian Nelson of the Guardians of the Flame Mardi Gras Indians 'during a Hurricane Katrina 5th anniversary event on Aug. 29, 2010.
Harry Connick Sr., the city's former district attorney, has frequently moonlighted as a nightclub crooner, albeit to smaller crowds than his much more famous son. Former City Councilman Oliver Thomas is currently starring in a play. And there's Frank Minyard, the trumpet-playing coroner.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who took singing lessons and contemplated a stage career as a young man, is the latest elected official to take to the spotlight, appearing on a CD compilation of original songs by Paul Sanchez and Colman deKay titled "Nine Lives: A Musical Adaptation."
Landrieu sings on the upbeat finale, "Rebuild Renew," joining Lillian Boutte, John Boutte, Michael Cerveris, Anders Osborne and Mem Shannon, among others.
A musical take on the book "Nine Lives" by Dan Baum, the collection is described in a news release as an "oral history of New Orleans in the 40 years between the twin catastrophes known as Betsy and Katrina, as seen through the eyes of nine of its citizens."
The CD includes 24 songs planned for a musical theater production.
Chris Joseph, the project's California-based executive producer, said he was unaware of Landrieu's background in music when the mayor was mentioned as a participant.
"I admit I was a bit skeptical," Joseph said. "But I thought he was great. He aced it. There were two verses for the mayor. And he's not singing background. He's on lead."
The lyrics assigned to Landrieu could have been lifted from one of his campaign speeches: "Everybody, we all know it's true. Still got a lotta work to do. You help me, yeah, I'll help you. Together we can rebuild and renew!"
Landrieu closes his brief performance with this sugary passage recalling his campaign mantra: "One dream, one fight. One voice, one city. We love New Orleans. Ahhh, ain't she pretty?"
Joseph, whose Mystery Street Records is releasing the album, is the driving force behind Threadhead Records, which assists up-and-coming New Orleans musicians with grants and loans. Joseph said a portion of the "Nine Lives" proceeds will be set aside for grants.
More than 100 musicians and singers perform on the CD, including Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Wendell Pierce, Kevin Griffin, Michelle Shocked, Harry Shearer, Shamar Allen and the Dixie Cups.
A release party for "Nine Lives" will be held Jan. 29 at 8 p.m. at Kajun's Pub, 2256 St. Claude Ave. The event is open to the public.

Frank Donze can be reached at or 504.826.3328. Bruce Eggler can be reached at or 504.826.3320.

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