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The “Piano Prince of New Orleans” feat. many special guests including Dr. John, Big Freedia, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Steve Riley, and Donald Harrison, Jr.
It’s been thirteen years since New Orleans pianist and vocalist Davell Crawford has graced the world with an album, and the grandson of James “Sugarboy” Crawford (of “Jock-A-Mo” fame) wants to make it clear where his musical allegiance lies with My Gift To You (out June 11, 2013), a heartfelt tribute to his birthplace and home, Louisiana.
Crawford partners for the first time with Basin Street Records to produce this heavily orchestrated opus to the place that shaped him into the “Piano Prince of New Orleans.” Self produced and recorded at various studios throughout Louisiana, My Gift To You features a slew of the biggest names including Big Freedia, Donald Harrison, Jr., Bobbi Humphrey, Dr. John, Nicholas Payton, Steve Riley, Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington, and the Davell Crawford Singers. Crawford’s boundless musical ties are evident, as he features in addition to the list above: Detroit Brooks, Bernard Grobman, Clarence Johnson III, Norwood ‘Geechie’ Johnson, Marlon Jordan, Bill Summers, Derwin ‘Big D’ Perkins, June Yamagishi and many others. Mark Brooks (bass) and Joseph Dyson, Jr. (drums) hold down the rhythm for this truly collaborative project.
Crawford’s fingers have been dancing on ivory since he was three, and he’s been gracing stages since age seven. “It is impossible to hear more than the first two minutes of Crawford without smiling and breaking into some serious foot tapping, there’s just no other way to describe it, unless, of course, you’re dead,” says Chuck Graham of the Tucson Citizen.
Influenced by his experiences growing up in Louisiana attending Baptist and Catholic churches, his godmother Roberta Flack and the many tight-knit musical circles of New Orleans that he fell into due to his preternatural talent Crawford has decided to bring the focus of this work to the experiences, emotions, and memories associated with Louisiana. He pays respect to the greats of New Orleans composition and piano with re-workings of Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights”and the James Booker rendition of “Junco Partner.” He shows his flair for re-invention of pop hits with covers of “The River of Dreams” (Billy Joel), and stirring renditions of “Can’t Find My Way Home” (Steve Winwood) and “Fire & Rain” (James Taylor).
While My Gift To You celebrates the immeasurable experiences of Louisiana with songs like “Southern Woman (Ain’t Nothin’ Like A)” and “Louisiana Sunday Afternoon” it reveals itself as a deeply personal account of Crawford’s unique experiences with originals like the celebratory “Creole Man” and the ballad “Until I See You In A While.” The album fittingly concludes with the gospel-tinged “Ode to Louisiana,” an inspiring love letter that sums up the album in its opening line, “Louisiana, I love you.”
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