The Historic New Orleans Collection celebrates New Orleans composer, producer, arranger, educator and jazz ambassador Harold Battiste Jr. with the release of his memoir, Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man.


Chasing the dream from New Orleans to Los Angeles and back, Battiste thrived in the jazz, blues and pop scenes. The creative force behind a bevy of number-one hits—Barbara George’s “I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More),” Joe Jones’s “You Talk Too Much,” Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me”—and the sage who launched the careers of Dr. John and Sonny & Cher, Battiste worked behind the scenes of the music industry for more than half a century. With Unfinished Blues, his voice is heard, unfiltered, at last.

Battiste’s musical sensibilities were formed—and his racial consciousness raised—in the churches, classrooms and jazz joints of New Orleans. A graduate of Dillard University’s music education program, Battiste confronted discrimination as a teacher in Louisiana’s segregated public school system. In the early 1950s he founded All for One, the nation’s first African American musician-owned and -operated record label. His commitment to education and uplift has never wavered: in recent decades he worked alongside lifelong friend and fellow musician Ellis Marsalis to build the renowned jazz studies program at the University of New Orleans. He can count among his friends and protégés many of today’s leading young jazz musicians—Nicholas Payton, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis, Victor Goines, Jesse McBride and other members of a “next generation” keeping the New Orleans sound alive.

Richly illustrated and featuring excerpts from Battiste’s personal letters and journals, Unfinished Blues launches The Collection’s new Louisiana Musicians Biography Series, dedicated to documenting the region’s rich musical heritage.

The Collection is the permanent repository for the Harold Battiste Papers, an archive of music-industry photographs, manuscripts and memorabilia available to the public at the Williams Research Center. Unfinished Blues is available at The Shop at The Collection, (504) 598-7147 or online, and through major online retailers.

Publication of Unfinished Blues was made possible through the generosity of The Collection’s Laussat Society and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.

Click here to listen to Harold Battiste interviewed by Fred Kasten on his NPR show "The Sound of Books."

Book Details

Published by The Historic New Orleans Collection, June 2010 • 198 pp. • 8 x 10 • Cloth • ISBN-13: 978-0-917860-55-3 • ISBN-10: 0-917860-55-1 • $28.95

Ordering: Copies may be ordered from The Shop at The Collection, (504) 598-7147;

Also available for Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook.