THE ICON: Arthur Robinson
THE LEGACY: He wasn’t a musician, but Arthur Robinson contributed in his own, singular way to the day-to-day street music of New Orleans. Better known as “Mr. Okra,” the vegetable vendor’s distinctive, chant-like song as he drove his brightly painted, produce-laden pickup around town made him a local icon. Part of the appeal was the personable Robinson himself; he loved his customers, and they loved him right back. At least as important, though, was what he represented: a touchstone to a bygone era in which an army of street vendors sang their way through the city’s every day. On Thursday (Feb. 15), Mr. Okra died, his song silenced — leaving the daily gumbo of New Orleans life shy one key ingredient.
THE ARTIST: Jeff Morgan, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION:”When I was small, I used to hear my daddy and his friends. He did it all up in the Garden District. And down in the 9th Ward, too. He started off with a wheelbarrow, just pushing it. Then when the horse and wagon came out, he bought a horse and wagon. And in the 1950s, he bought a truck.” — Arthur Robinson, in a 2005 interview with The Times-Picayune