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Allstate Sugar Bowl 2018 – National Anthem

John Boutté


Walk down the tree-lined streets of New Orleans’ Faubourg Marigny neighborhood on a hot sultry night, and chances are you’ll hear John Boutté’s voice floating out of one of the area’s trendy nightspots. Perhaps he’ll be singing soulful versions of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” or Annie Lennox’s “Why,” or maybe it’ll be one of the bayou-blended tunes he’s co-authored with Paul Sanchez, his pal in the Marigny. Whatever the song, its soulfulness will stop you in your tracks, for Boutté lives and breathes the heart and soul of New Orleans. Born into a large Creole family that goes back seven generations in Louisiana, he was exposed to music early in life, soaking up New Orleans jazz, soul, blues and gospel, then adding his own Creole traditions along the way. Today, Boutté works with a wonderful amalgam of styles — from torchy jazz to aching soul and African-American gospel — all convincingly delivered.

The fans of the Allstate Sugar Bowl will have the opportunity to hear the talented Boutté perform the Star-Spangled Banner this evening in advance of the College Football Playoff Semifinal. The veteran performer has performed the National Anthem on many occasions, including a memorable performance at LSU’s Tiger Stadium for a New Orleans Saints “home” game the season following Hurricane Katrina and an ensemble performance with many great jazz and blues artists to kick off the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, Ore., on the Fourth of July.

“I sing [the anthem] straight,” Boutte said. “It’s difficult enough. Edward Frazier Frank, an old jazz man in New Orleans gave me a great lesson long ago. I kind of scatted through a song and I was so proud of myself. He looked at me and said, ‘Let me tell you something, anybody who can sing better than the melody that the composer intended is a genius. You ain’t a genius. Stick to the melody.’ So that’s what I do.”

Whether it’s playing in a tiny New Orleans club or performing at a major jazz festival or singing the anthem at a college football game, Boutté is in his element.

“What I like about music and song, is that they bring people together,” he said. “When we sing together it’s a very powerful moment. Songs are at all special events, from birth to death. When you’re singing together, you realize that everybody is the same. It’s unity.”

Boutté’s most widely played song is the theme from the hit HBO show Tremé, but he has a string of hits that New Orleans music lovers treasure. His latest album, “All About Everything,” is available in record stores around New Orleans (yes, they still exist here) as well as online.

And he offers this bit of advice to all of our visitors in town for the game, “Leah Chase is iconic in this town. She is a legend when it comes to New Orleans food. If you want to get some good gumbo, go see Leah [at Dookie Chase’s Restaurant].”

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