Lillian Boutté - vocalist
When singer Lillian Boutté was named "New Orleans Musical Ambassador" in 1986, she was the second jazz legend in the city's history to be accorded this honor - the first having been none other than Louis Armstrong. “Ambassador Lillian” is a loquacious and outspoken defender of her hometown. She has been working extensively to help Katrina victims, doing benefits and organizing relief funds for musicians, many of whom have lost everything. Also very active in this cause is her brother John Boutté a highly heralded singer in his own right and possessor of one of the finest voices in America. The siblings grew up in the Seventh Ward along with eight other sisters and brothers, steeped in the neighborhood culture of the city that is now threatened by extinction in the wake of Katrina.
It has always been Lillian's driving desire to bring the musical heartbeat of her home town nearer to the ears of the world. Over a timeframe of twenty years and with the backing of her albums featuring jazz, pop, blues, soul and gospel, she has succeeded in conveying the city's unique atmosphere to an international audience. For this extended period, she has been touring almost nonstop, doing concerts, club dates and festivals all over the world.
Music was Lillian's life right from the start. At the tender age of 11, she won her first singing contest. During her musical studies at New Orleans' Xavier University, she sang in the gospel choir, before being discovered by Allen Toussaint, who used her as a background singer when producing the likes of James Booker, Patti Labelle, the Neville Brothers, the Pointer Sisters and Dr. John.
Then she went on a five-year world tour as an actor, singer and dancer in the musical "One Mo' Time". At the same time, she made her first solo recordings, and could be seen in two movies: alongside Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint and Tuts Washington in the critically-acclaimed Stevenson-Pallifi documentary "Piano Players Barely Play Together", and in a bit part in Alan Parker's "Angel Heart". Together with blues legend Brownie McGee, she can also be heard on the soundtrack of that movie. Lillian also sang at the Tennessee Williams memorial service in St. Louis cathedral in her native New Orleans, and America's high and mighty were treated to her interpretation of the national anthem in the Superdome.
In 1992 she spearheaded 45 of her New Orleans music friends and brought the sounds of Cajun, Soul, R & B, Gospel traditional N.O. Brassbands and as well New Orleans cuisine to 22 cities in Germany under the title SPIRIT OF LOUISIANA. In 1993 she originated the project GOSPEL UNITED in co-operation with 2 Danish organizers, where she was able to show her musical and social influences.