By Tara Bennett
When a creative mind loves the state they’re from, it can bring about the spark of inspiration. For Ray Charles, his love of Georgia led him to write “Georgia on My Mind,” and the thrills of the Big Apple prompted Billy Joel to create “New York State of Mind.”
Now one local musician, Henry Turner Jr., has created a song dedicated to his own muse, the city of Baton Rouge. Entitled “Baton Rouge Theme Song,” it’s about Henry Turner Jr. “falling in love with Baton Rouge all over again.”
Originally, Turner started out playing blues music in Baton Rouge during the ’70s and ’80s before he started touring nationally and internationally. Turner is well known for developing his own brand of music that has come to be referred to as Louisiana reggae, blues, soul and funk. After years of touring, Turner returned to Louisiana and started the Listening Room Project after the passing of his close friend Tabby Thomas.
“I kind of stayed away from the scene for a long, long time because I just didn’t think they were ready for original music…” Turner said. “[The Listening Room Project] brought in a new era for localizing and doing things here. As a result, it reintroduced me to the city. I love where we are.”
His work in mentoring and introducing new music was recognized by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Mayor Kip Holden, who proclaimed Oct. 28 as Henry Turner Jr. Day.
“[That] sparked me into creating a theme song for the city,” Turner said. “We don’t have a theme song here.”
So with a creative spark, Turner began to create and made sure the song was done in the style Baton Rouge is known for.
“Northern Louisiana is known for country and western music, Southwest Louisiana is known for zydeco music, but Baton Rouge is known for blues,” Turner said. “I put the song in the blues genre so that it is reflective of the dominant music style of Baton Rouge because we have so many Baton Rouge blues legends.”
The song is very reminiscent of older blues songs a la Tabby Thomas and Rachel Mills. One of the lines from the song follows as “we are a teenage city, we are almost grown, if you visit one time you’re gonna make this your home.” The lyrics reflect Turner’s feelings on Baton Rouge becoming a metropolis that can stand beside cities such as Austin, New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles in terms of generating original music. The downtown area held a lot of inspiration for Turner while writing the song, as the area has made a lot of development progress over the last few years.
“They’re thinking of the big picture and how to make Baton Rouge more user-friendly for culture and entertainment,” Turner said.
Currently, Turner is making headway in having the song become the official theme song for the city. Thus far he has presented the song to VisitBatonRouge.com and local radio show Rock it Right Radio, who played the song on Sunday, Jan. 3. The six stations of iHeartRadio will play the song, and there are currently talks for the marching bands of LSU and Southern to perform it during games.
“We feel that it’s probably gonna become the official Baton Rouge theme song,” Turner said. “We’re working hard.”
Turner will officially release the song on Saturday, Jan. 16 and will perform the song during the Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Fest in town square at 6 p.m. For more information, visit brsong.com.