By McCray Sutherlin
New Orleans native and R&B legend Aaron Neville will come through Baton Rouge on Friday for a night at L’Auberge Casino.
His illustrious career has spanned over five decades; during that time he has had four albums go platinum and four Top 10 hits in the U.S. Neville draws on influences from his African-American and Native American heritage and combines them with influences from his native city, The Big Easy.
Neville’s first single, “Over You,” rode the local airwaves in the early 60’s without much commercial recognition. His second single release, “Tell It Like It Is,” came in 1966 via Par-Lo, a small New Orleans record label founded by Neville’s friend and schoolmate George Davis. It was the label’s only release and reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, skyrocketing Neville’s career.
Now, Aaron was not the only talented musician in his family. It all started in 1976 when Art, Charles, Aaron, and Cyril got together to record with The Wild Tchoupitoulas, a Mardi Gras Indian group led by their uncle, George Landry, otherwise known as “Big Chief Jolly.”
In 1977, The Neville Brothers was formed. Because Art and Aaron had seen how cruel the music industry could be in their own individual careers, Art reached out to Paul Howrilla, Dr. John’s personal manager. Howrilla created Neville Productions, Inc. and acted as a management figure for the group. The Neville Brothers released their self-titled debut album in 1978 under Capitol Records; it included the popular track, “Bird on a Wire.”
Their second release, Fiyo on the Bayou, featured vocal performances from a young Whitney Houston and her mother Cissy Houston.
After some time spent touring, the group released Uptown via EMI in 1988. This album had some all-star guests featured, including powerhouse saxophonist Branford Marsalis, Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards, and rock’n’roll great Carlos Santana.
In 1989, Neville joined Linda Ronstadt on the album Cry Like A Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind. This collaboration was well-received; garnering a Grammy for “Don’t Know Much” and “All My Life.” Both of those tracks also went on to hit No. 1 on Billboard charts, giving Neville more nationwide recognition.
Over the years, Neville has become a staple of New Orleans music. His son, Ivan Neville, is also a renowned multi-instrumentalist that founded the band Dumpstaphunk. The Neville family’s music will always live on, but don’t miss the chance to see Aaron in person on Friday night at L’auberge Casino.
Our Favorite Aaron Neville Tracks
1) Drift Away – The Neville Brothers
2) Fire on the Bayou – The Neville Brothers
3) Hercules – Aaron Neville
4) Yellow Moon – The Neville Brothers
5) Tell It Like It Is – Aaron Neville
L’Auberge Casino + Hotel
Friday, December 5
Doors open at 7 p.m.