Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Friday, February 26, 2021

Celebrate Black Queer Voices: Feb 26 - James Booker


He has been called the greatest piano player to come out of the Bayou.  He recorded with legends like Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and The Doobie Brothers.  He was the man that taught Harry Connick Jr. how to play jazz music.  His friend and fellow musician Dr. John has referred to him as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.”  Unfortunately his story and his music are not well known.

 And this is why I love documentary storytelling.  They introduce us to individuals and stories and events that otherwise we would not be aware of.  The documentary Bayou Maharajah: The Tracig Genius of James Booker is fantastic.  It is the reason I know the story of the remarkable black gay jazz musician.  The only thing greater than his music is his story.  No one knows how he lost his eye.  It’s an enigma whose origin changes everytime James would tell the story. 

 He was called the Ivory Emperor.  He was called the Piano Prince of New Orleans.  He was called the Bayou Maharajah.  And he was both a genius and junkie, a legend and a tragedy, a prodigy and a problem.  Check out the trailer for Bayou Maharajah below.  His story is incredible.

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