13. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Historically, the ‘Big Easy’ is one of the most important musical cities in the USA, playing a highly significant role in the emergence of early rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, funk and in particular jazz.
Indeed, New Orleans is labelled as the outright birthplace of jazz, with the likes of Buddy Bolden and Nick LaRocca amongst others credited with developing the art form, before Louis Armstrong helped to popularise it worldwide.
Armstrong would also cross-over from jazz into popular music and have a number of global chart hits including ‘What A Wonderful World’ and ‘We Have All The Time In The World’. There is a park named after him in the city that hosts numerous festivals and celebrations.
The city, with its melting pot of different ethnic cultures including European, Latin American, African-American and Afro-Caribbean, has perhaps not surprisingly been a progenitor of new musical styles since as far back as its pre-American and slave days. The combining of such disparate cultures over the centuries has encouraged a blending of European and African rhythms and a fusion of Cajun and Zydeco music too.
From the late 1940s onwards, the city saw a distinctive brand of rhythm and blues emerge – one that contributed greatly to the emergence and popularisation of rock ‘n’ roll. Singer-songwriter and pianist Fats Domino was a key figure in this movement, which was also influenced by the Delta Blues. Little Richard’s ‘Tutti Frutti’ was famously recorded in New Orleans, and is regarded as one of the very first rock ‘n’ roll songs.
New Orleans also a hotbed for funk music in the 1960s and 1970s, with local boys The Meters being the most well-known band playing this brand of music.
The city has also seen burgeoning cowpunk, hip-hop and metal scenes emerge in recent decades.
In terms of festivals, there is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival which celebrates Louisiana’s music, food and culture, and of course, the world famous Mardi Gras Carnival, with its unsurpassed colour and magic.
Associated acts: Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Meters, Harry Connick Jr., Frank Ocean
Landmarks: Preservation Hall