THE ICON: Harold Battiste Jr.
THE LEGACY: Growing up in the shadow of the Dew Drop Inn in New Orleans, Harold Battiste was surrounded by music from an early age. Naturally, he was drawn to it, with the saxophone being his instrument of choice. But his real mark on the local music scene would be behind the scenes, as a composer and arranger who over the decades worked with a list of musical luminaries, from Dr. John to Ike and Tina Turner to Sam Cooke. Later, he helped nurture rising young talents as a teacher at the University of New Orleans, continuing his life’s work of making sure that — to borrow a phrase from Sonny and Cher, with whom he also worked — the beat goes on.
THE ARTIST: Sean Randall, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “I could hear the music coming from there on my front porch and in my living room. It was the music of the black stars of the day: lots of R&B, a little swing, a little jazz, a bit of jump. It was all about the rhythm, and I couldn’t help but be drawn to that music because it spoke directly to my spirit.” — Harold Battiste Jr.