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George Wein

'Father of Festivals'; patron saint of New Orleans Jazz Festival

Widely dubbed the “Father of Festivals,” jazz impresario and professional pianist George Wein filled a void when he bowed the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1970. When jazz enthusiasts and city leaders wanted a suitable way to celebrate the city’s role as the birthplace of jazz, they turned to Wein. It has since become the largest jazz festival and attracts more than 500,000 fans. Wein, a band leader, record label chief and music entrepreneur, started the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954, so his work was well known to New Orleans city leaders. At 80, Wein, whose hundreds of festival creations include the venerable Playboy Jazz Festival and the several JVC Jazz festivals, was pleased that the post-Katrina event drew a lineup that also included Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett, Paul Simon and Keith Urban in addition to the jazz artists.

P.O.V.: “We had a renewed sense of community this year that went beyond the jazz artists. It let people know that New Orleans lives.”

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