Rolling Out

How the late Russell Batiste Jr.’s legacy will forever live in New Orleans

Jamal Batiste, Russell’s brother, wants people to remember 1 thing about the late drummer

Russell Batiste Jr. was a phenomenal musician that the city of New Orleans had always enjoyed and embraced. Playing for bands such as Papa Grows Funk and Vida Blue, Batiste left an imprint on the music scene in New Orleans before he died in September 2023. In honor of Batiste, Tipitina’s inducted him into their Walk of Fame during New Orelans’ Shorty Fest, as the recipients are recognized as cultural icons in the community who provided moments of inspiration to rising young musicians and performers.

Jamal Batiste, Russell’s brother, spoke with rolling out about his brother’s contributions to New Orleans music and what he wants people to remember about him.

How much did your brother mean to the world of jazz?

Here’s the thing: my brother Russell not only had an influence in the jazz world but also in hip-hop, R&B, rock and beyond. All the genres meshed together to where he has people like Mick Jagger from The Rolling Stones speaking about him or he’s doing something with Chaka Khan here at Tipitina’s. He has definitely contributed to the music community in New Orleans and globally. He’s making some great music with our Heavenly Father, and his spirit still lives on. To everybody, thank you so much just for your love and support and your prayers for my family.

How big is the music and culture scene here in New Orleans?

It’s unbelievable. I’m from here, and I’m still trying to get around to the culture because it’s so big and everything. But anybody and everybody that comes here to New Orleans … can feel the love and warm welcome. You already know about the food [and], of course, the music and festivals. It’s just a cool place for family and friends to come together. We have a great time, and we just have down-to-earth people here.

What is one thing you want people to remember about your brother?

One thing I would want people to remember about my brother is that he gave his life to God Almighty Jesus Christ a long time ago. That’s what kept this heart intact no matter what he went through. Second thing, he loved his family and people.

Is this your first time attending Shorty Fest?

This was the first chance I had to come in and stand. We’re celebrating my brother Russell being inducted into the Walk of Fame here, and then just seeing the work that Trombone Shorty has been doing with the youth here. I’m pretty sure everybody here has been checking out his brass bands, so it’s good to see the city coming out for this event because — with everything that’s going on around the world — whenever anything is good, positive, and godly to where it’s helping the people and healing the people, let’s support that more and let that be the focal point. Let that go viral. We have people who really care about us, care about the community and care about the culture here in New Orleans.

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