Louis Prima Exhibit To Open May 1, 2019

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The Wildest: Louis Prima Comes Home

New Exhibition at the Jazz Museum Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Louis Prima To Debut May 1, 2019.

NEW ORLEANS (April 18, 2019) — The New Orleans Jazz Museum will debut a new exhibition, “The Wildest: Louis Prima Comes Home” on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. As a trumpeter, singer, songwriter, and performer, Louis Prima’s swinging persona conquered New York, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and points in between. View photos, hear recordings, see his instruments and stage wear at The New Orleans Jazz Museum. Sponsored by the Gia Maione Prima Foundation.

“We are very grateful to the Gia Maione Prima Foundation for all of their support in making this wonderful exhibition possible.” said New Orleans Jazz Museum Director, Greg Lambousy. “What a treat to have Lena Prima kick off the opening reception honoring her father’s legacy.”

Anthony Sylvester from the Gia Maione Prima Foundation added, “The Foundation is so thrilled that this comprehensive exhibit on the life and times of Louis Prima is here in his hometown.  We know his fans will enjoy it and learn more about his career, and we also believe that this exhibit will introduce a new generation to the exciting music of Mr. Prima.”

Louis Prima started his musical career at a young age, and was recording for Bluebird with the Hotcha Trio by the time he was 22. He formed The New Orleans Gang in 1934, who regularly performed at The Famous Door, one of New York City’s most notable jazz clubs at the time. Original composer of “Sing, Sing, Sing,” Prima made his mark on the jazz swing era throughout his career, combining a tight swing style with loose vocals and personality.  While the big band era began to shrink, he still found opportunities to develop his sound, working with artists such as Sam Butera, Keely Smith, The Witnesses, and Gia Maione. His performances in Las Vegas caught the attention of Capitol Records and paved the way for appearances on TV and film, including his voice role as King Louie in The Jungle Book. At the end of his career, Prima and The Witnesses made their way back to New Orleans, taking a residency in the French Quarter.

Rare artifacts to be highlighted in the exhibition include Louis Prima and Keely Smith's 1958 Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group or Chorus for "That Old Black Magic”, several pieces of Prima’s jewelry, including a lighter with a metal relief of the Sahara hotel on it, a trumpet necklace and ring, and Prima Coat of Arms belt buckle, along with Gold Records for the Jungle Book and Capitol Records Collectors series, and many more.

“I was singing Louis Prima when I was six, but I didn’t know I was singing Louis Prima.” says Music Curator David Kunian “And now he will be elevated to his reserved place in the pantheon of New Orleans luminaries.”

The exhibition opens with a reception at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, 400 Esplanade Ave., New Orleans, Wednesday, May 1, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The public is invited to this free opening, which will feature catered food from the Garnished Palette, and an open bar featuring local cocktails. Arrowhead Band will open the evening with a performance. Lena Prima, daughter of Louis Prima, will close out the evening on our main outdoor stage.

The Wildest: Louis Prima Comes Home will be on display through May 15, 2020.

School groups meeting required criteria and children 6 and under are admitted free. Located at 400 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana 70116 with an additional entrance at 401 Barracks Street, the Museum resides at the intersection of Esplanade and Decatur Streets in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The New Orleans Jazz Museum is a Louisiana State Museum. Founded in 1906, Louisiana State Museum is a system of National Historic Landmarks and architecturally significant structures housing a half-million artifacts that showcase the state’s history and culture. For more information, please call 504-568-2566 or visit www.nolajazzmuseum.org.


The New Orleans Jazz Museum celebrates jazz in the city where it was born. Through dynamic interactive exhibits, multigenerational educational programming, research facilities and engaging musical performances, the music New Orleans made famous is explored in all its forms. Through partnerships with local, national and international educational institutions, the New Orleans Jazz Museum promotes the global understanding of jazz as one of the most innovative, historically pivotal musical art forms in world history. For more information on upcoming performances, visit www.nolajazzmuseum.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @NOLAJazzMuseum.

Sponsors & Partners

Media Contacts

Baylee Badawy                                        
Digital / Media Strategist        

Greg Lambousy

David Kunian
Music Curator