With careful detail, journalist and musician Ben Sandmel captures the unique odyssey of the self-proclaimed Emperor of the Universe in the visually stunning new book Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans, available nationwide Thursday, April 11.
From the 1960s until his death in 2001, K-Doe distinguished himself as one of the most colorful and beloved figures in the ever-evolving New Orleans music scene. Born at Charity Hospital in 1936, K-Doe honed his vocal talents in the city’s gospel circuit and backstreet lounges. In 1961 he rocketed to stardom with the number-one single “Mother-in-Law,” written and produced by Allen Toussaint. The track became the first recorded by a New Orleans artist to top both the pop and R&B charts.
Throughout years of trials and tribulations, K-Doe’s confidence and magnetism attracted fans of all ages from around the globe-long before technology fueled overnight celebrity. Sandmel takes readers backstage in this intimately framed biography, featuring exclusive interviews with Ernie, his wife Antoinette Dorsey Fox, their family and friends, and more than 100 musicians, including Allen Toussaint, Aaron Neville and Dr. John. In many ways, K-Doe’s saga is universal-it’s the tale of a man who rose, fell, and found himself again. But the Emperor’s larger-than-life personality and perpetually positive outlook make his story extraordinary.
The book is already generating buzz, with Eric Overmyer, cocreator of HBO’s Treme, observing that “Ben Sandmel has captured and conveyed the loopy genius, linguistic and musical, that was Ernie K-Doe…. The prose is lively, the quotations generous, the photos and graphics spectacular. This is one of the five essential books on New Orleans culture. You gotta get it.”
THNOC launched the Louisiana Musicians Biography Series in 2010 to document the region’s rich musical heritage. The first title, Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man by Harold Battiste Jr. with Karen Celestan, won the Outstanding Contribution to Publishing award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association in 2011.
For more, visit www.hnoc.org
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