For years, Deacon John Moore has been a fixture on the New Orleans music scene, charming generations with his charismatic voice and exuberant spirit.
Moore was a pioneer of jump blues, a unique New Orleans sound that started after World War II and combines elements of gospel, big band swing, New Orleans jazz, and rhythm and blues.
But even though he played with greats like Little Richard, Fats Domino and Ray Charles, Moore never achieved fame outside the Big Easy.
"I've longed for fame all my life — fame and fortune," says Moore.
Skipping School to Sing
Moore grew up with his 12 brothers and sisters in the Creole section of New Orleans. But even though his family was poor, their home was rich with music. As a young boy, he was the principal soloist at Corpus Christi Church.
"They used to pull me out of class and come and sing funerals in the middle of the school day," he remembers.
He never lost the gospel influence, and years later his fellow band members called him "Deacon" John because his singing style reminded them of a church deacon.
Over the years, the name Deacon John became synonymous with jump blues, which many critics view as one of the crucial building blocks of rock 'n' roll.
Political consultant James Carville, who grew up in Louisiana dancing to Deacon's tunes, says of the music: "It moved. It jumped. … It just kind of made you want to grab a cold beer and a hot girl."
Keeping Hope Alive
Now, after 45 years as a musician, Moore is finally being recognized for his musical contribution.
With backing from producers Cyril Vetter and his daughter Gabriel Vetter, Deacon John is at the forefront of a movement to revitalize jump blues.
Earlier this year, he headlined an all-star concert with other New Orleans music legends like Allen Toussaint, the Zion Harmonizers and Dr. John. There's also a CD from the concert and a soon-to-be-released documentary film called Deacon John's Jump Blues.
"There's still hope for me," Moore says. "You know, maybe God is saving me for something special. Because they say good things come to those who wait. And I've been waiting all my life."
For more information, see the documentary producers' Web site at: www.deaconjohnsjumpblues.com.