September 19, 2021

Community News

Sad Notes from New Orleans Music World in Ida’s Aftermath As COVID-19 Hits Home
September 11, 2021

Posted courtesy of Wright Enterprises San Francisco~Dallas Community Spotlight~~~

Dallas, Texas-Amid the winds, rains, and all the weather-related despair, the everyday occurrences of life continue and among them is having to say a long goodbye to loved ones.  Damon Batiste of NOLA's Royal Family of Music, the Batistes and founder of NOSACONN (New Orleans South Africa Connection), shared the news of the loss of his business partner Tommy Peters and fellow musician Bennie Pete, like Batiste, also a New Orleans cultural ambassador.

Their unexpected deaths due to COVID-19 could be considered a one-two sucker punch amid the perfect storm of the worldwide pandemic and a hurricane.  Just nine months ago, Tommy Peters, cast a great vision for the music industry's fight against the pandemic sharing his optimism of BB King's Blues Club New Orleans under the leadership of Batiste.

"I have all the confidence in the world that Damon Batiste will be a strong force in resisting the economic impact of the Coronavirus in New Orleans," said Peters.  Discussing the impact of the worldwide pandemic bringing the entertainment industry to its knees, Peters talked about the economic impact on business. "Congress has got to get out of gridlock and do something to help small businesses with PPP, not just the major corporations who are more equipped to ride the storm."

Peters' additional comments about overcoming the pandemic's effect can be found in the article: New Year New Vision Damon Batiste & NOSACONN Inc. Take On Call To Action For Nation's Healing:" https://louiseagle.com/lad/new-year-new-vision-damon-batiste-nosaconn-inc-take-on-call-to-action-for-nations-healing-louiseagle-10086428.

"Tommy was a dynamic and successful businessman with a big heart," said Batiste.  He and his wife, Liz Peters, complemented each other.  He built venues for musicians to bring healing to the world.  Tommy was a blessing in my life and will be deeply missed, added Batiste.  My prayers go out to all of the family, friends, and fellow employees all with a hole in our hearts."

Batiste who has been traveling along the southeast with his daughters' dog "Buddy," who he rescued from the family home amid the onslaught of Ida's rains and winds while his wife Johanna Maison, with daughters Nala and Leilah and son, "DJ-Damon Jr.", escaped ahead. He  first landed alone in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, about two hours from Orlando, where Peters died. He then followed his family who first stayed in Houston, Texas but eventually landed in Dallas.

Speaking from the Sheraton Galleria in Dallas, Batiste said: "I just found myself just driving in a state of unbelief.  The real storm hit and then the emotional whirlwinds of having Tommy leave us September 5th and Bennie gone, September 6th have me still trying to find my footing.  I know their inspiration to be resilient will bring us all through this."

Batiste sent out to his worldwide network of musicians and friends from New Orleans to San Francisco to Ghana and South Africa, the news of loss with a message of condolences to Grammy-nominated Hot 8 Brass Band.  "This excerpt from the band's website is the core of who Bennie was, a true leader and a caring icon," added Batiste.

"Bennie was a rock in our lives. Yes, he was a leader, a teacher, and a mentor. More than that, Bennie was an inspiration to our band and to many other musicians, and the entire musical and cultural community."  (Full Statement: http://www.hot8brassband.com/)

Batiste noted that it was sixteen years ago that the Batiste extended family found themselves in Texas escaping from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.  With Mayor Cantrell announcing Friday that the electricity is back on for New Orleans starting with the poorest neighborhoods, Batiste, who had gathered with family including his uncle Peter Batiste Sr. and friends like Sir Earl Toon, writer of Kool and the Gang's iconic "Celebration" and "Ladies' Night" among other hits.  Between inspiring each other to embrace life at the fullest and walks with Buddy and making new friends among, the New Orleans escapees and the staff of the Sheraton Galleria, Batiste was on the phone non-stop concerning the debut of "Petersburg Rising," a documentary produced by his friend Alan Blankstein with the help of famed film director Sam Pollard premiering at The Richmond International Film Festival, today, Saturday, September 11th.

(https://richmond.com/entertainment/petersburg-schools-documentary-makes-red-carpet-premiere-at-the-byrd-on-saturday-richmond-international-film/article_cc4b71d5-2ac6-5310-a181-3793c110fcfc.html)

In between calls to Blankstein, Batiste was on the phone with Ariyy Barr Lashes, about the women's empowerment event they are planning at a community venue in the next few weeks. "We are excited that one of the first events we have slated in October is for women, who have been greatly impacted by Ida," said Barr Lashes, a youthful mentee of Batiste.

Additionally, Batiste was debriefing with Michael Fant of Atlanta, Georgia about the successful GaDangmes Celebrate Homowo 2021 held September 4th. (https://www.modernghana.com/news/1103155/gadangmes-celebrate-homowo-2021-in-atlanta-georgia.html)

The crescendo of calls that could have been cacophonous for most, evolved into a symphony and ended with Batiste taking a few moments to speak with Jackie Wright, who has served as a publicist for the San Francisco Black Film Festival and the Oakland International Film Festival, for Wright Enterprises Community Spotlight.  Batiste focused on the resilience of New Orleans:

https://youtu.be/13gbjHJvEXI.

So, with hopes of working again with Sir Earl Toon, Curtis King of The Black Academy of  Arts and Letters (TBAAL) along with others who developed Hurricane Katrina fundraising events, sixteen years ago, Batiste heads back to New Orleans on 9-11, serving as avant-garde for his family.  Batiste also leaves behind his father's younger brother, Peter Batiste, who lived several years in Dallas after Katrina, who'll be heading out on Sunday, but not without lifting up praise to God at two churches including St. Joseph's Chosen Church of God in Plano, Texas, on his way back home.

Yes, if you are wondering, NOLA's Royal Family of Music includes Academy Award Winner Jon Batiste for the film "Soul" among other musical credits and of course "Late Night With Stephen Colbert" fame.

###

Tommy Peters Related Articles

https://www.localmemphis.com/video/life/people/tommy-peters-beale-street-businessman-founder-of-bb-kings-blues-club-in-memphis-has-died-after-battling-covid-19/522-554ed9d2-dc24-4085-9c78-891026fd4ba0

https://www.memphisflyer.com/businessman-tommy-peters-dies-in-orlando

Bennie Pete Related Articles

https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-bennie-pete

https://www.wdsu.com/article/bennie-pete-sousaphone-player-for-hot-8-brass-band-dies/37493295


Batiste NOLA's Royal Family of Music Related Articles
https://www.nola.com/gambit/free_fun/goods/arti...

https://www.prlog.org/12849215-hurricane-eta-io...

https://www.prlog.org/12849454-songs-martial-la...


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