Masterfully fusing a number of musical styles including R&B, blues, jazz and funk, Toussaint was an influential ambassador of the New Orleans arts community throughout his prolific, six decades-long career, and proved instrumental in elevating the worldwide profile of the citys vibrant music scene. During the 1960s and 1970s, Toussaint wrote and produced several hit songs for fellow New Orleans natives including Lee Dorsey, Dr. John, The Meters, Aaron Neville and Irma Thomas, as well as a handful of non-New Orleans artists.
Toussaint wrote several of his most recognizable singles including Fortune Teller, Lipstick Traces (on a Cigarette), and Ruler of My Heart under the adopted pseudonym of Naomi Neville, in honor of his mother. Toussaints compositions have been affectionately covered by countless country and rock artists, including Glen Campbell, The Doors, Bonnie Raitt, The Rolling Stones, Boz Scaggs, and The Who. Dorseys version of Toussaints Get Out of My Life, Woman has been widely sampled by hip-hop artists, most notably Biz Markie, Cypress Hill, De La Soul, the Fugees, and Nas.
While Toussaints much in-demand songwriting and producing helped establish his unparalleled reputation, he also enjoyed a fruitful and acclaimed solo career as a performer, recording a few dozen studio LPs, live albums and compilations. Highlights of his album repertoire include Toussaint (1971), Life, Love and Faith (1972), Southern Nights (1975), and The Bright Mississippi (2009). Toussaints most recent album, Songbook, was released in 2013.
Toussaint was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2011. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Toussaint diligently raised funds and support for New Orleans residents left homeless by the tragedy. When awarding Toussaint with the prestigious National Medal of Arts in 2013, President Obama acknowledged his selfless work, explaining that After his hometown was battered by Katrina and Allen was forced to evacuate, he did something even more important for his city he went back. Since then, Allen has devoted his musical talent to lifting up and building up a city. And today, he’s taking the stage all over the world, with all kinds of incredible talent, doing everything he can to revive the legendary soul of the Big Easy.”
With Toussaints passing, the world has lost a magnetic figure and indelible musical fixture. In celebration of his life and legacy, the soulhead team has selected a handful of our favorite Allen Toussaint performances, which you can enjoy in full below.
R.I.P. Allen Toussaint.