Don Vappie, musician/composer/educator, is the 2021 Steve Martin Banjo Prize Winner and the Banjo Hall of Fame inductee, in September 2022. In addition, he has received awards for his contributions to the preservation of New Orleans Creole Culture through music and film. He has produced 7 of his own albums, co-produced and starred in a PBS documentary, performed as a featured artist with orchestras on movie and television soundtracks, and at concerts and festivals worldwide. Vappie's highly regarded unique and original tenor banjo style is equal only to his love of his Creole heritage and tradition.
Choosing to remain in his hometown, New Orleans, was Don Vappie's choice in 1974. Immediately after filling in on a gig with the great Peggy Lee, she offered him the guitar chair. He politely declined. So, she wrote and gave him an open invitation signed on the hotel stationary, "if you ever want to play …”
“Looking back, I think that was a defining moment in my life,” says Vappie. Though at the time, as he played in cover bands performing the popular music of that period, he evolved an interest in the rich history of music and tradition in Southeast Louisiana, particularly New Orleans.
Vappie was born into an extended family of musicians, some of whom are quite prominent. He began piano lessons at 6 years of age and played trumpet in school bands starting in fifth grade. By high school, his desire was to play bass. It was 1 year later when the band they'd formed lost the guitar player that Don started playing guitar. “I'd watched those guys play and remembered some of the shapes. So, I sat down at the piano and figured out the notes in the chords and then looked at how I could play those notes within the reach of the fingers of my left hand on the fretboard of the guitar.” That's how Vappie explained it to the great Dr, John during a recording session for Disney's remake of their classic movie, Jungle Book.
For more info visit donvappie.com
Jazz Album of the Year 2020 – THE TIMES UK
Jazz In Marciac 2022
Steve Martin Banjo Prize 2021
American Banjo Hall of Fame 2022
he can start the party with his banjo, he sure can!
he demonstrates a sure taste and a remarkable technique
JAZZ DIXIE | SWING FR
Horniblow’s clarinet is both passionate and reflective by turns
VINTAGE JAZZ MART UK
Vappie shows the importance of the banjo in New Orleans music and its often overlooked relevance in jazz
it’s about time someone showed the jazz world what the banjo really can do
THE OBSERVER UK
Mr Vappie is a born storyteller – an urban griot, who has lived the music and has consigned all of it to the centre of his being
JAZZ DA GAMA CANADA