|Oscar "Papa" Celestin and the Tuxedo Orchestra, 1928
Oscar Celestin was born in Napoleonville, LA in 1884. He played with the Algiers
Brass Band before moving to New Orleans in 1904, where he played in the
Olympia Jazz Band and others. In 1910, he became the leader of the house band
at Tuxedo Dance Hall, and he kept that name for his band after the hall closed.
The Tuxedo Orchestra became one of the most popular bands in the city.
Like so many other New Orleans jazz musicians during the 1930's, he was forced
to give up his music; he worked at a shipyard until after WWII. At that time, he
organized the Tuxedo Brass Band, which became very popular. For many years,
he was featured at Paddock's in the French Quarter, made records and radio
appearances, and even performed for President Eisenhower.
The following is from a Time magazine article dated July 6, 1953:
"Papa has been pouring out music around New Orleans practically all his life and
is proud of it. During a concert not long ago, he stepped to the microphone to
make his point: 'Will all of you who danced to my music ten years ago stand?'
Most of the audience rose. Then Papa called for those who had danced to his
music twenty years ago. Many stood. He went on and carried his question across
three, four and, finally, five decades. And, even at the last, a few people stood.
When he died in 1954, over 4,000 people marched in his funeral parade. In view
of the tremendous contributions Papa Celestin made to jazz throughout his
lifetime, the Jazz Foundation of New Orleans had a bronze bust made and donated
it to the New Orleans Museum of Art."
|Above, Oscar "Papa" Celestin, 1946;
below, date unknown.
|The four photos below were taken at Papa
Celestin's funeral in 1954. Over 4,000 attended.