Tricia Boutté Project

Hailing from the world-renowned Boutté family right here in New Orleans, Tricia Boutté was destined to build a special career with her remarkable voice and unparalleled stage presence. At age 5, competing against adults in a local talent show, George Benson awarded her second prize after bringing down the house with Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly. Her mother, Lolet, remembers clearly “the day the Diva was born” as 5 year-old Tricia demanded a piano be rolled onto stage so she could perform like Roberta performed (the fact that Tricia had yet to learn to play piano was irrelevant!)

At age 12, she was invited by legendary band-leader Bob French to sing with his Original Tuxedo Jazz Band every Sunday. Here, she shared the stage with such New Orleans luminaries as Lloyd Lambert, Ed Frank, and Fred Kemp. Years later, Fred Kemp would offer to put bands together for her as she began to perform her own sets.

At 19, Tricia performed Lift Every Voice and Sing at a martial arts exhibition in New Orleans. In the audience was rising hip hop star Richard Griffin (Professor Griff) from Public Enemy. He connected Tricia with Public Enemy for live tours which led to other work and recordings with popular rap groups such as Eric B. & Rakim, Kool Moe Dee, Third Base, Eazy E and N.W.A. It was also at this time that Tricia was diagnosed with  melanoma. She left the touring world and returned home for treatments. She also began a very significant working relationship with legendary producer Allen Toussaint.

Toussaint used Tricia as a background singer on his own recordings. Quickly realizing her unique talents, he set out to produce a record which would feature her voice and her own compositions. Pledge To My People was her debut recording as she fronted powerhouse reggae band Cool Riddims & Sista Teedy.

A critical local success, the recording led to other opportunities to work with Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, D’Angelo and Galactic. While not on the road, she again joined Bob French as the featured singer for the Tuxedo Jazz Band. While the old-school luminaries were gone, she now shared the stage with up-and-coming New Orleans musicians Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown, Steve Walker, and Paul “White Lightnin” Longstreth. Soon, Tricia and Paul Longstreth began a collaboration to explore writing and performing original music. Due to their busy schedules, they were unable to put together a steady band, but would hire capable musicians whenever gigs were available. The seemingly endless and rotating roster of different musicians led Tricia to ask Longstreth, “And just what shall we call this bootleg operation?!” The Bootleg Operation featuring Tricia Boutté was born.

A CD of original material written by Tricia, Paul, and singer/lyricist Kimberley Longstreth (Paul’s sister) was released under the name Three Little Piggies Presents UMAMI. After only a handful of performances, including a breakout set at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, New Orleans levees failed during Hurricane Katrina. Paul landed temporarily in Houston, working with Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers. Tricia landed in Norway where she had worked with Ytre Suløens Jass-Ensemble.

Citing the Norwegian health care system which treats her genetic illness, unique artistic opportunities such as performing for President Barrack Obama at the Oslo Nobel Prize dinner, as well as regular performances for the King and Queen of Norway, Tricia ultimately made the decision to make Norway her full-time residence. Thus, the Bootleg Operation was shelved indefinitely.

In 2010, Tricia was offered a tour under her own name in Brazil. Given complete creative control, she once again enlisted Paul Longstreth to put a New Orleans band together and rehearse a wide variety of New Orleans music. The Bootleg Operation featuring Tricia Boutté blew away the Brazilian audiences with a mixed-bag of original music, traditional jazz, gospel, and New Orleans R&B. Audiences lined up down the aisles to inquire about CDs and get a glimpse of Boutté, who would sit on the stage after shows and sign autographs until the theatre was empty! It was obvious that a CD needed to be recorded to document this latest version of the Bootleg Operation.

Tricia and Paul will be joined in studio by Grammy Award-winning arranger and saxophonist Alonzo Bowens, bassist Mitchell Player, and drummer Ocie Davis. The material will be based on the live sets in Brazil and will include original material, new adaptations of older material, and the traditional jazz, gospel, and R&B of New Orleans.

Visit Tricia’s website

Opened July 21, 2011