Marie St. Louis, a jazz exec who was responsible for booking such legends as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald, died June 10 of cancer at Beth Israel Hospital in New York. She was 71.
St. Louis, a Boston native, attended Girl’s High School and Simmons College in Boston before beginning a career in the booking business. After meeting up with George Wein, the husband of a childhood friend, St. Louis joined his booking company, Festival Prods. Inc. For the next 37 years, St. Louis worked with Wein to organize various jazz festivals, including the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Newport Jazz Festival and the Playboy Jazz Festival, eventually working her way up to senior vice president of Festival.
In addition to organizing fests, St. Louis booked individual talents such as Miles Davis, Ellington, Fitzgerald and Armstrong. By the end of her life, Festival Prods. Inc. had become the world’s largest presenter of live jazz music.
St. Louis is survived by a son, daughter-in-law, grandson and brother. In lieu of flowers, donations in St. Louis’ name can be made to the American Cancer Society.