On Wednesday, March 13, 2024 at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center (1225 N Rampart Street, New Orleans) the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, in conjunction with The Historic New Orleans Collection, will be celebrating Leigh and her music with a panel discussion followed by a concert of Leigh’s music, directed and arranged by John Magnie, Leigh's long-time bandmate and co-writer.
In addition to John, performers scheduled to participate include: Jimmy Robinson, Paul Clement, John Meunier, Ricky Sebastian, Tom Marron, Joe Cabral, Alex Harris MacDonald, Lenny Zenith, Alison Young, Holley Bendtsen, Debbie Davis, and Darcy Malone.
5:30 pm – Doors open
6:00-7:00 pm – Panel discussion
7:00-7:15 pm – Q&A
7:15-8:00 pm – Concert
8:00-9:00 pm – Reception
Tickets are free, and can be reserved by clicking on the button below. The Livestream link will be posted the day of the event.
Leigh 'Little Queenie' Harris was one of New Orleans' boldest, most arresting singers since her days fronting Little Queenie & the Percolators in the mid 70's and 80's.
Inducted into Louisiana's Music Hall of Fame in 2019, she was a true New Orleans legend, a dynamic performer, able to take any song and make it her own. She commanded the stage, from small venues to huge festivals worldwide. A gifted songwriter, she belted out tunes in a style that only can be called "New Orleans" – a little gospel, a lot of soul, a dollop of second-line funk and a heaping helping of jazz - her talents unfolding in layers as she nurtured her interpretive gifts for jazz, blues, gospel, standards, as well as her own songs.
Shortly after Leigh’s first birthday, she was humming lullabies back to her parents; six months later she'd added the lyrics … "and I haven't ever really shut my face since." She began writing folk songs as a student at St. Martin's, and at 11 she performed at the Tulane Student Center’s folk festival. After finishing high school, she played the New Orleans folk music circuit. She met John Magnie in 1975, and they began writing music and singing together.
When Tipitina’s opened in January 1977, she joined John Mooney’s Back Door Blues Revue as a vocalist. John Magnie and Leigh landed the Monday night piano duet slot at Tipitina’s, and sensing they had something good going, decided to form their own band – Little Queenie & the Percolators, playing at Tipitina’s, Jimmy’s, the Dream Palace, and more, including the Jazz and Heritage Festival. Word soon spread and the band was playing to packed venues all over town.
Leigh sang with New Orleans music legends including The Neville Brothers; Dr. John; and Professor Longhair. She also sang live or on recordings with BB King; Elvis Costello; Sun Ra; Jerry Jeff Walker; The Guess Who; Odetta; Bonerama; Wynton Marsalis; Branford Marsalis; They Might Be Giants; The Gospel Soul Children; CC Adcock; Taj Mahal; NRBQ; Harry Connick, Jr.; Buckwheat Zydeco; The Subdudes; Pete Seeger; Asleep at the Wheel; Astral Project; Larry Sieberth; Michael Wolff's Impure Thoughts; Bryan Ferry; Anders Osborne; Linton Kwesi Johnson; Roomful of Blues; Li'l Band o' Gold; The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra; Doug Belote; Clark Vreeland; and Delbert McClinton.
She formed several groups, among them: Mixed Knots; The Boys of Joy; Little Queenie and The Rhythm and Blues Death Squad; Roy G Biv; Red Beans and Rice Review; and The Ofay Soul Choir (also known as Little Queenie's Wahini Dakinis).
Her signature song My Darlin' New Orleans was originally recorded with Little Queenie and the Percolators. When Ron Cuccia of the groundbreaking Jazz Poetry Group (of which Leigh was an integral part) added the introductory "Streets" rap, the composition transformed into the song that will forever be hers and hers only.
Leigh’s music was used in film and television, with the Little Queenie and the Percolators version of My Darlin’ New Orleans played (uncredited) during end-titles on the first episode of season one of the HBO series Treme - nominated for a Grammy Award. Notably, every season of Treme included at least one of Leigh’s songs, and during season 3, Leigh is seen with Josh Paxton performing her original song 10 Carat Blues. She acted in the movie Passion Fish, and appeared in and sang I Be Blue and After You've Gone in the movie Eight Men Out.
In 2000 she was named Female Performer of the Year by Gambit Entertainment Weekly and is recognized as an important part of New Orleans' music history by The Historic New Orleans Collection. In addition, the City of New Orleans has honored Leigh by proclaiming her birthday, July 27, as Little Queenie Day.
Leigh's full bio is available on Wikipedia.
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