NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA–Music is a major industry that is currently struggling here in New Orleans. In 2020, the challenges are great and so are the financial and personal struggles of New Orleans’ musicians.
“Music has literally been a part of me since before I even got here,” reflects Jay Sutton, a Louisiana bass player, vocalist and band leader. Jay is part of a musical family of musicians rooted in the soul-saving spirit of church. Jay’s older brother LJ was a brilliant musician and vocalist and also who inspired Jay to begin his path of music.
LJ had always been comfortable in the church sanctuary, but over the year’s he would venture out and begin making music with his brother Jay in the various clubs around South Louisiana. Jay remembers one of the first gigs his brother did with him saying, “I told him to do what he normally did in church. On the stage, he didn’t realize he was on the mic and and said, man these people don’t want to hear me go to church. The crowd said, yes we do! It went from being six people in the club to being sold out with people pressed up against the glass.”
As time passed Jay and LJ would have their last gig together in March. The very next month, both brothers would contract the coronavirus.
Jay remembers playing a gig at BB Kings in the French Quarter saying, “that night, I became ill and little did I know I had contracted the virus at the time.”
Lj, who was also sick would be rushed to Ochsner Hospital in Slidell.
The Sutton brothers would have their last goodbyes and Jay says “it was so bad, that he couldn’t breathe and they had to put him on two ventilator systems and he stayed in the hospital for a month and never came out.”
The loss of LJ leaves a bitter void in the family and for four months, Jay’s bass sat quietly.
“The hardest part right now is that music is my passion. I love it. But how do I go about operating and doing the very thing I love when it’s the thing that reminds me of my brother. However, I realize It would be disrespectful of me not to continue in music. Now I play for both of us. LJ was more than a brother, he was my best friend. He still is.”