Start: 5:30 pm
End: 7:00 pm
Wednesday, April 25th 5:30-7PM May 1961, and one tune was sitting pretty atop both the R&B and pop charts: “Mother-in-Law” became the first hit by a New Orleans artist to rule black and white airwaves alike. Ernie K-Doe was only twenty-five years old, and his reign was just beginning. Born in New Orleans’s Charity Hospital, K-Doe came of age in a still-segregated South. He built his musical chops singing gospel in church, graduating to late-night gigs on the city’s backstreets. He practiced self-projection, reinvention, shedding his surname, Kador, for the radio-friendly tag K-Doe. He coined his own dialect, heavy on hyperbole, and created his own pantheon, placing himself front and center: “There have only been five great singers of rhythm & blues—Ernie K-Doe, James Brown, and Ernie K-Doe!” Decades after releasing his one-and-only chart-topper, he crowned himself Emperor of the Universe. A decade after his death, lovers of New Orleans music remain his loyal subjects. Journalist Ben Sandmel takes readers backstage in this intimately framed biography. Here are all the highs: Billboard raves, rock-star parties, a string of early hits that remain local staples. And here are the lows: profligate spending, go-nowhere releases, and years lost to alcohol. And here, too, is the magical second act: a radio show with a cult following, a new generation of protégés, and a fresh lease on life—and love—with Antoinette Dorsey Fox. Ben Sandmel is discussing and signing his book, Ernie K-Doe: The R & B Emperor of New Orleans. If you are unable to attend, you must call the book shop to order signed books.