Published on: October 18th, 2013
Friday October 18th is the 84th birthday of influential New Orleans music educator Yvonne Busch.
Born and raised in the historic Tremé section of the city, Ms Busch mastered several brass instruments and woodwinds as a child. She became a touring professional by the age of 12, crisscrossing the United States as a member of the critically acclaimed “International Sweethearts of Rhythm” and the “Swinging Rays of Rhythm,” two all-female bands sponsored by the Piney Woods Country Life School, an historic African-American boarding school located in Piney Woods, Mississippi.
After leaving Piney Woods, she returned to New Orleans, completed her high school studies at Gilbert Academy, and became the only female in the “all-male” Southern University (Baton Rouge) Jazz Band. She later joined the Dooky Chase Orchestra.
Her most significant achievements, however, came as a music educator, in 32 years of teaching music and directing bands in the city’s public high schools, including Booker T. Washington (1951-52), Joseph S. Clark (1952-58), and George Washington Carver (1958-1983) schools.
Ms Busch’s students included:
- saxophonist James Rivers, who played and composed music for several Clint Eastwood films, including The Bridges of Madison County,
Bird, and Tightrope;
- Herlin Riley, renowned jazz drummer with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra;
- George Davis, an original guitarist in the legendary Broadway production of A Chorus Line, and who performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn;
- drummer John Boudreaux, who performed with Billy Eckstine, George Benson and Sam Cooke;
- drummer James Black, who performed with jazz legends Yusef Lateef, Freddie Hubbard, and Cannonball Adderley.
Former band students of Yvonne Busch also include drummers Joseph "Smokey" Johnson, Sullivan Dabney, Herb Taylor, Ernie Elly, and Tony "Oulaboula" Bazley; New Orleans music legends James “Sugarboy” Crawford, Theron Lewis, and Porgy Jones; and many others.
Her musical legacy includes jazz musicians, classical musicians, rhythm & blues performers, and gospel singers -- and many music educators.
Ms Busch has just returned to New Orleans from the Dallas area, where she has been living since Katrina completely flooded her Ninth Ward home. Messages and birthday greetings for Ms Busch can be sent to her biographer Al Kennedy, who will pass them along, at AKennedyNO@aol.com. It would be especially nice for her to hear from former students!
Please join WWOZ today in sending birthday greetings and good wishes to this remarkable musician and teacher, who has given so much to New Orleans culture! She is another example of how important music teachers and band directors are to the music of New Orleans.
--Posted by Stafford, written by Dave Ankers