NEW ORLEANS- The musical Boutte' family includes some of our most electrifying performers over many generations.
Some perform locally, and some have made careers overseas as cultural ambassadors of our music. Often times they've also exposed our musicians to European audiences and helping their careers. Now, one of those ambassadors could use our help.
Tonya Boutte calls her, "The boss. The queen. She was in charge of everything, driving, booking, singing. She wanted to cook. She wanted to be the mama. She was everything."
The she that Tanya is referring to is her aunt and godmother Lillian Boutte of the famed music family and one of our most dynamic performers.
After spending 35 years living and performing in Europe, Lillian is back home with family, suffering from early onset dementia, possibly brought on by trauma.
Tanya had gone overseas to sing with Lillian and discovered she wasn't well.
"It was last year. I went up to Germany where she's been living for for like 35 years, and I noticed a pattern that just wasn't her. I called home and said, 'Hey, it's time to bring her home.' It's a language barrier, and they were treating her for something that wasn't the problem," Tanya says.
Lillian helped found the New Orleans Musician's Clinic, and it was with their help that the right diagnosis was made, and now her road to getting better is happening with a lot of family love.
"When Tanya said she wanted to take care of her, this is the safe haven since the storm, so it's natural that she should be here with us," Sister Lynette Boutte told us.
For the Boutte Clan, caring for Lillian is returning the love she gave so many for so long.
"Lillian has cared for and has guided and has reached back and brought the next generation in the musical fold. Now she's at a place where many of our seniors, when they get to that place in life where they're now slowing down, retiring, getting ill a little bit earlier than needed," said Vance Vaucresson. "When that time comes, the family is around to and we can then allow for them to have those last moments in that beautiful and wonderful place which is family."
European friends of Lillian Boutte have put out a CD of unreleased material called "Gotta Love Lil." Tanya is also taking her onstage at French Quarter Fest during her performance on April 8.
To buy the You Gotta Love Lil cd click here
If you'd like to help with Lillian Boutte's care click here.