He grew up playing music in New Orleans but Louis Prima’s talent as an artist and entertainer made him world-renowned. Now, artifacts belonging to the great jazz trumpeter, vocalist and composer, including films, recordings, diaries and sheet music, are coming home to the William Ransom Hogan Archive of New Orleans Jazz at Tulane University.
“Prima’s iconic status as an artist and entertainer whose career spanned half a century and included hits such as ‘Jump, Jive an’ Wail’ and ‘Just a Gigolo – I Ain’t Got Nobody,’ makes this one of the most notable donations ever received by the Hogan Jazz Archive,” said Bruce Raeburn, director of Special Collections and curator of the Hogan Jazz Archive.
The collection was donated by the Gia Maione Prima Foundation, Inc, founded by Prima's wife and lead vocalist. Tulane will dedicate a Louis Prima Room to house the collection in Jones Hall in 2017.
Prima is one of New Orleans’ most influential musicians, bringing the sounds of the city to audiences across the globe. His style evolved through the years, from Dixieland jazz to swing to pop, even rock and roll. His legacy continues today. Generations of children know Prima’s voice as King Louie in Disney’s The Jungle Book. The Brian Setzer Orchestra won a Grammy covering Prima’s 1956 song “Jump, Jive an’ Wail.”
“We are excited to partner with Tulane University and be able to fulfill his late wife Gia’s dream of bringing the Louis Prima Archives to his hometown of New Orleans. This collaboration was not only meant to have Tulane University maintain and preserve the archives but was also designed to continue the legacy of Louis Prima and support and encourage an appreciation for American Jazz, American Popular Music and jazz performers,” said Anthony J. Sylvester, managing member of the Gia Maione Prima Foundation and founding partner of Sherman Wells Sylvester & Stamelman LLP in Florham Park, New Jersey.