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Shreveport has a long and very interesting past.  That's doubly true when it comes to the musical history of the Ratchet City.  Whether it's Hip-Hop, Country, Rock, Blues, Jazz, or any other genre of music - this city has worked its way into some of the most iconic songs of our time.  Long-time Shreveport music aficionados may be well aware of the history I am about to reveal - but for folks who have recently relocated to our area, this should be a treat!

In 1924, Jelly Roll Morton created a song called the "Shreveport Stomp," and it was an instant hit!  The song itself is legendary, but the man behind it left a legacy that is just screaming for a big-budget Hollywood biopic.

Jelly Roll Morton's given name was Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe, and he was born somewhere around New Orleans around 1890.  It's hard to pin down an exact date of this composers birth because there is no birth certificate.  The law requiring them in Louisiana wouldn't be passed until 1914.  Among some of the more fantastic aspects of his life is this little tidbit: He claimed the he was the man who invented jazz.

Jelly Roll Morton
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

That fact has been argued passionately amongst jazz and music history buffs since Morton said it back in 1902.  That particular statement drew a lot of criticism from his peers at the time, but it doesn't diminish his talent in my opinion.

According to AllMusic, Jelly Roll grew up near some of the seediest music venues in the Crescent City, and eventually caved at the age of 14 - that's when he started playing piano in those same clubs and brothels, much to his family's disapproval.  In fact, he had to lie to his grandmother about his nighttime job.  He told her he was working security, but that story eventually fell apart.  When his grandmother (whom he lived with at the time) found out he was tickling the ivories at house of ill repute, she kicked him out.

Jazz Bar
Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images

Out on his own, Morton really hit his stride.  He brought his new style of jazz to the far reaches of this country through minstrel shows before he would finally get the chance to record his music for the masses while in Chicago in 1923.  One year later, he would pen and record his homage to Shreveport.

Before you listen to the "Shreveport Stomp" below, I wanted to add this little tidbit.  After hearing Jelly Roll perform at a Club in Washington DC in 1938, folklorist Alan Lomax invited him to be interviewed and perform for our nation's permanent record at the Library of Congress with a focus on the rowdy days of his youth.  Lomax was interested in the songs pounded out on piano by Morton when he played in the New Orleans brothels.  Reportedly, some of those songs were so raunchy - they weren't released to the public until 2005.

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