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NOLA Life Stories: George Wein's Rocky Road To Jazz Fest

George Wein, seated, worked with different music experts to guarantee that the Jazz Fest lineup was stylistically diverse.
Newport Festivals Foundation, Inc.
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George Wein, seated, worked with different music experts to guarantee that the Jazz Fest lineup was stylistically diverse.

Jazz Fest creator George Wein was a pianist and professor of jazz studies at Boston University when he organized the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954. He scored another hit with the Newport Folk Festival and became a sought after concert promoter.

When officials from New Orleans wanted him to produce a festival in the Crescent City, George knew he wanted to do it, but encountered some obstacles along the way.

George Wein also said that “prejudice never goes away; you just have to make it uncomfortable for the people who are prejudiced.” To hear what happened when George Wein walked into a bar with 10 priests, click the link below. 

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This story takes place during George Wein's second visit to New Orleans. Two years prior, he had met the mayor and other city officials at The Royal Orleans Hotel to discuss the possibility of a festival, but the talks came to a standstill because of the city's Jim Crow laws.
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This interview was conducted by Mark Cave for the Historic New Orleans Collection.

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