The Capitol Park Museum presents “Me Got Fiyo: The Professor Longhair Centennial”
BATON ROUGE, La. – Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Capitol Park Museum announce the opening of Me Got Fiyo: The Professor Longhair Centennial on Tuesday, April 19. The exhibition explores the life and legacy of Henry Roeland Byrd, better known as Professor Longhair or simply Fess, one of the most beloved and influential pianists in New Orleans history. It will be on display through August 6.
Born on December 19, 1918, in Bogalusa, Louisiana, Professor Longhair’s influence on New Orleans music is incalculable. His rhythms and riffs influenced countless people who made music in New Orleans and abroad. His lyrics portrayed unique characters and situations that seem to happen only in New Orleans. His vocal style sounded almost out of control and unhinged, like a party about to get really out of hand.
In the words of the exhibit’s curator, David Kunian, “Professor Longhair was the baddest. All pianists in New Orleans and beyond bowed down to his feet, worshipped at his altar, smoked his peace pipe, ate his gumbo, and saw his Zulu Queen on Rampart and Dumaine.”
Showcasing all things Fess, the exhibition explores the musician’s early life and development, his first hits including “Tipitina,” “Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” and “Big Chief,” his 1970s comeback, untimely death, and musical legacy. Kunian, music curator at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, created the exhibition in 2018 to commemorate the centennial of Professor Longhair’s birth. The exhibit has been updated for display at Capitol Park Museum.
Visitors can get a sneak preview on Thursday, April 14, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at an opening reception sponsored by Friends of the Capitol Park. The reception is free for members of Friends of the Capitol Park; nonmembers can join the fun for $10, which includes two drink tickets. Hayride Scandal will sponsor the bar.
The museum will host a variety of programs in conjunction with the exhibition, including a “Women in the Blues” panel discussion on Thursday, April 21, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. sponsored by the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation. The event is part of the museum’s “Third Thursday After Hours” series and presented in tandem with the Dialogue on Race Louisiana.
Museum admission is $7 for adults; $6 for students with I.D., senior citizens (65+) and members of the military. School groups with reservations and children six and under are admitted free. Located at 660 North Fourth Street in Baton Rouge, the Museum resides directly across from the State Capitol.
Founded in 2007, the Capitol Park Museum is part of the Louisiana State Museum, a system of National Historic Landmarks and architecturally significant structures with an educational mission. The museum houses a half-million artifacts that showcase the state’s history and culture. For more information, please call 225-342-5428 or visit louisianastatemuseum.org. For membership information visit capitolparkfriends.org.