Who was Nellie Lutcher, and why is preserving her legacy important to the City of Lake Charles? Nellie Lutcher was a fantastic vocalist, songwriter, and accomplished pianist. The eldest of 10 siblings, she was born in 1916 in Lake Charles, LA, and the family home was located at 424 Enterprise Boulevard.

She was a local star, with an angelic voice, and like many Black artists of her day, she started singing and playing piano at church and home. Then, sometime in the late 40s, her life changed for the better when she was heard performing by a Capital Records talent scout at a March of Dimes charity event at Hollywood High School.

The March of Dimes talent show was played on the radio, and lucky for Nellie, Dave Dexter, a scout for Capitol Records, caught the performance. The rest is history! Nellie Lutcher reached superstardom, touring the world performing Jazz and Rhythm & Blues in the 40s and 50s. Her music is credited with having influenced the iconic Nina Simone, among others.

This is why preserving Nellie Lutcher's musical legacy is so important. The City of Lake Charles paid tribute to the late Jazz legend by dedicating the Nellie Lutcher Memorial Park (702 Enterprise Blvd) in honor, complete with a beautiful mural by local artist John Whaley Jr.

In the coming years, look for the park to include various additions as funding becomes available, such as possible parking, shade structures, additional seating, benches, etc. Be sure to mark your calendar for the next Nellie Fest, April 2025, because this event is guaranteed to get bigger and better with every passing year.

I was given the honor of MCing the inaugural Nellie Fest on Sunday, April 7, 2024, presented by the City of Lake Charles and several sponsors. It was awesome! Several members of Nellie's family and niece, Jazz artist Jackie Levy, joined the community to celebrate. There was fantastic music, entertainment, arts and crafts, and great food.

Before the inaugural Nellie Fest, Mayor Nic Hunter, City Council member Luvertha August, and other city officials discussed the importance of Nellie Memorial Park. In the video below, they welcomed the community to join the celebration at the festival in memory of Nellie Lutcher and the musical legacy she left behind.

There are also several photos from the Nellie Festival showcasing all of the beautiful music talent, such as Jairus Daigle, United Christion Fellowship Praise Choir, Street Side Jazz Band, and Leah Nicole.

Nellie Lutcher Fest

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