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.

Mahalia Jackson: The Queen of Gospel Music
The 23rd Bill Russell Lecture

sponsored by The Derbes Foundation 
Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres Street
April 20, 2022 | 6 p.m.

Watch online

With a career spanning 40 years, Mahalia Jackson is widely considered one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century. She was a trailblazer whose devotion to God and singular voice changed gospel music forever. For the 23rd Bill Russell lecture, Dr. Mark Burford, Dr. Valerie Francis, and vocalist Andaiye Alimayu present a night of lecture and music to celebrate Jackson’s extraordinary life and career.

The Bill Russell Lecture is sponsored by The Derbes Foundation. 


Mark Burford, Reed College
Valerie Francis, Nicholls State University 
Andaiye Alimayu, Zion Trinity Band