The New Orleans native James Booker was a wondrously gifted pianist who helped embody his city’s definitive take on R&B. Though praised by the likes of Dr. John, who called him “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced,” Booker still experienced racial and sexual marginalization before passing away in 1983.
Booker’s personal struggles and musical accomplishments are explored in the new documentary Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker. It’s a revealing look at the unique, talented artist, who was steadfast in his musical beliefs. “Somebody told me there’s not a very big market for the blues,” he says in this exclusive trailer clip. “I refuse to believe that. Maybe they just don’t want me to know the value of what I’ve got to offer.”
Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker premieres on March 14th at SXSW. It will screen again the following day at the Alamo Ritz 2.