Posted by: Admin | November 2, 2012

The Saturday Interview 32 – Lillian

If you want to meet a living, breathing example of what this project is all about, you need to meet R&B, Jazz and Gospel singer, Lillian Boutté. Allow me to introduce her  to you here.

Born in New Orleans in 1949, Lillian has lived in Germany for the past 30 years. Previously married to a German, she now describes herself as “happily single”:

“I like my own space. I have great friends and I have my music,” she says. “I’m never bored; never lonely. I sing; I laugh. That’s all the medication I need as I grow older – God and laughter!”

Lillian is a woman who laughs a lot. In reality her home, an apartment overlooking farmland with a view of the Elba River, is a base for she is always on the road.

“I put joy and laughter into the air to clear the BS!” she says.

She has what she describes as “music friends” all over the world. “I respect music – it comes from harmony on the inside.”

Thirty years ago Lillian was a hairdresser in New Orleans who sang in her local church. The chemicals used at the time in hairdressing put paid to that career, but as one door closed, another opened. Appearing in the musical One Mo’ Time, she was discovered by  legendary musician and producer, Allen Toussaint. Beginning her  career as a backing singer  for the likes of Dr John and Patti LaBelle, Lillian began to tour in 1976 – and has barely stopped since. Today she is the official Musical Ambassador for her hometown of New Orleans, picking up this baton from Louis Armstrong.

I ask her how she feels about growing older. “there are no more “shoulds” in my life,” she answers, “I just do everything I want to do.”

One of the things she does because she wants to, is run workshops with both adults and children in the UK, particularly at Everybody Let’s Sing (ELS) a registered charity that brings together regular and special needs children in singing workshops. As she talks about  running these workshops her passion is a tangible thing and I am left with the impression that nothing is beyond this wonderful woman when she sets her mind to it.

“I live happy and that keeps me healthy. I’m an old soul with a young heart.”

Before I leave I’m treated to the sound of her voice soaring across the fields in the small Northamptonshire village where she is visiting with friends. It is like a gift, one that I will always remember and if you ever get the chance to hear Lillian sing, I urge you to grasp the opportunity.

More photographs of this lovely lady plus a video so you can hear her sing, were posted on my Celebrate Life! photography blog here – click!

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