NEW ORLEANS — Today, Mayor LaToya Cantrell released the following statement on Henry Butler, the New Orleans pianist who died Monday at the age of 69 after a long battle with metastatic colon cancer:
“I’m extremely sad to hear of the loss of Henry Butler — who was a true New Orleans treasure. I will never forget him visiting us in Broadmoor, post-Katrina, wanting to know how to help. Although blind, he walked the site of the former St. Matthias School building with me — when the community envisioned the building coming back as an Arts and Wellness Center. The Center is now a reality, serving hundreds of residents. And Henry is now a beloved, lost legend. I will be forever grateful for him, for his friendship and his support. May he Rest In Peace.”
Butler was another notable musician in a long line of New Orleans piano players that included Jelly Roll Morton, Allen Toussaint, Fats Domino, Tuts Washington, Dr. John, James Booker and Professor Longhair. Professor Longhair once mentored Butler, who also once worked with Booker. Butler also performed at the first-ever New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1970 with fellow students from Southern University in Baton Rouge.
Equally adept at jazz, blues and rhythm and blues, Butler also was known as a music educator and once taught locally at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts.