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Famous and Homeless

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Though it doesn't have a permanent home, the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame is welcoming honorees. At a fundraiser Saturday (Oct. 27) in Baton Rouge, the nonprofit institution will officially induct Benny Spellman, Ernie K-Doe, Chris Kenner, Barbara George and Jessie Hill.

Seasoned Louisiana music promoter and broadcast engineer Mike Shepherd has spearheaded creation of the Hall of Fame and is working toward construction of a permanent home in downtown Baton Rouge. At an event in Mandeville in April, Robert Parker, Willie Tee, Clarence 'Frogman" Henry, Al 'Carnival Time" Johnson, Irma Thomas and others were welcomed into the Hall of Fame's theoretical halls. Inductees receive a congratulatory letter signed by Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

In the future, the Hall of Fame will direct efforts to recover and reproduce artifacts and memorabilia of Louisiana music, Shepherd says, as well as booking gigs for artists with his Louisiana Music Hall of Fame Revue. Shepherd, who's fond of multimedia tricks, has engineered the show so that artists like the late Willie Tee and John Fred will make a 'virtual" appearance onscreen while a live band plays. Shepherd also filmed inductions of famously reclusive artists Fats Domino and Bobby Charles and will show footage of those events at the show. The future Hall of Fame museum and satellite exhibits planned for New Orleans and Shreveport will contain much of the same virtual media.

'The music is something that's real easily lost, in the figurative sense," Shepherd says. 'When you go to what happened in Katrina and even Rita, we literally lost pictures, gold records, memorabilia, tapes, recordings " and we almost lost Fats."

Saturday's event features a program of 75 classic Louisiana songs performed by Jean Knight, Robert Parker, Phil Phillips and others. The show starts at 8 p.m. at the Baton Rouge River Center Exhibit Hall. Tax-deductible tickets are $100 each or $1,000 for a table for 10 people.

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