The Bill Russell Lecture at The Historic New Orleans Collection focuses on New Orleans jazz, in honor of the William Russell Jazz Collection housed at THNOC. This collection documents Russell’s lifelong study of New Orleans jazz and related musical forms such as brass bands, ragtime, and gospel music. Born Russell William Wagner (1905–1992), William Russell was a modernist composer as well as a jazz historian and collector who focused on traditional New Orleans–style jazz. He amassed an extensive collection of jazz memorabilia, including musical instruments, records, piano rolls, sheet music, photographs, books, and periodicals. His collection traces the development of jazz in New Orleans and follows the movement of musicians to New York, Chicago, California, and beyond. It encompasses notes from Russell’s research, audiotapes, programs, posters, correspondence, films, business cards, notes, clippings, and scrapbooks. The Russell Collection is available to researchers at THNOC’s Williams Research Center, located at 410 Chartres St. For more information, email the WRC or call (504) 523-4662. 

The Banjo at the Crossroads of New Orleans and the Caribbean
The 24th annual Bill Russell Lecture

sponsored by The Derbes Foundation 
410 Chartres Street
April 12, 2023 | 6–7 p.m.

Register here

To learn the history of the banjo is to recover the actual history of America.
—folk musician Rhiannon Giddens

The Historic New Orleans Collection presents Laurent Dubois and Don Vappie in conversation about the history of the banjo, an instrument that embodies the centuries-old cultural exchange between New Orleans and the Caribbean. The program will meld lecture, musical performance, and an archival show-and-tell on THNOC’s holdings related to the banjo.

Laurent Dubois is the John L. Nau Bicentennial Professor of the History and Principles of Democracy and the Academic Director of the Karsh Institute of Democracy at the University of Virginia. He is the author of seven books, including Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (2004), Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (2012), and The Banjo: America’s African Instrument (2016).

Don Vappie is a musician, composer, and educator based in New Orleans. He has produced seven of his own albums; coproduced and starred in a PBS documentary; and performed as a featured artist with orchestras, in movie and television soundtracks, and at concerts and festivals around the world. His highly regarded unique and original tenor banjo style is equal only to his love of his Creole heritage and tradition.

The Bill Russell Lecture is sponsored by The Derbes Foundation.