Doreen Ketchens (born October 3, 1966 in New Orleans, Louisiana) is a jazz clarinetist, who performs Dixieland and Trad Jazz. She is one of the first and few female bandleaders in New Orleans, and a musical educator. She has performed at concert halls and music festivals, at U.S. Embassies and decades of weekly performances in Dixieland's tradition in the Royal Street Performing Arts Zone in the French Quarter of New Orleans with her band, Doreen's Jazz New Orleans. Ketchens has performed for four U.S. Presidents: Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, and is widely considered one of the cultural ambassadors of New Orleans and of the traditional music Nicknamed "Lady Louis" because of her ability to hit and hold powerful high notes, and her love of Armstrong's performance style, she has performed with Ellis Marsalis, Jon Faddis, Trombone Shorty, Al Hirt, Dorothy Donegan, The Black Crows and Jennifer Warnes, and opened for Macy Grey and Dr. John, and has been seen around the world by millions of people via media and fan videos of her performances (See Filmography & Videography, below). She has been featured in numerous documentaries about New Orleans, its music, and its heritage, and she has been seen on television in shows like HBO's Tremé.
Origins & Education
Like many of New Orleans' musicians, Ketchens grew up in the Tremé She studied clarinet in elementary school, beginning as a fifth-grader at Joseph Craig Elementary. To get out of a pop quiz, she responded to an announcement asking interested students to come and sign up for the band. Her first choice was flute, but most of the girls picked that instrument, so she opted for the clarinet. In junior high school, her band director, Donald Richardson, stayed on her for not practicing, and there was a boy that she was trying to impress. When she finally did practice, her talent began to emerge. She played for John F. Kennedy High School in New Orleans, and auditioned and was accepted to NOCCA, Louisiana's Arts Conservatory in New Orleans. She began to study with clarinetist Stanley Weinstein.
Doreen attended Delgado Community College, Loyola University of New Orleans, Southern University In New Orleans, and, through scholarships, including one from the New York Philharmonic, University of Hartford's The Hartt School in Hartford, CT, where she studied under Henry Larsen. She had an internship with the symphony in Hartford.
She worked her way through conservatories and college as a chef, and met her husband, arranger and sousaphonist for Doreen's Jazz New Orleans, Lawrence Ketchens at Loyola. She found her passion in Jazz with Lawrence.
Ketchens performed her first jazz gig with Lawrence at the 1987 Republican National Convention. She ran a plate lunch eatery called "Doreen's Sweets" for a time until she and Lawrence kept passing musicians working the streets of New Orleans, and she told him that they could make money doing that. The couple began performing on the streets of New Orleans in 1987.
She began playing in Jackson Square with her first band, the Jackson Square All-Stars. Their band evolved into "Doreen's Jazz New Orleans," and, after much struggle with the chauvinism of traditional Jazz and club owners, they managed to find a winning formula playing and entertaining crowds via their street shows, Jazz festivals, and then, through direct sales of their music and videos on the Internet. Ketchens has been sharing traditional American Jazz in Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe, South America, Russia and the United States. They have performed with programs sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center and The US Department of State.
Doreen introduced her daughter, Dorian Ketchens-Dixon, when she was barely nine, as a drummer at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival) for one song in a set. Today, she is one of the regular drummers backing the group.
Ketchens' group appears at Jazz Festivals in New Orleans and at music festivals, fairs, and showcases throughout the world. In 2006, she was part of a program for South African cultural exchange with the Field Band Foundation that was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Jazz at Lincoln Center in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
She has been featured in numerous documentaries about New Orleans, its heritage, and its music, including several profiles by WWOZ, New Orleans' Jazz radio station including a video profiles and audio programs, and dozens of articles from major newspapers and magazines around the world.
Doreen's iconic stance, head thrown back, clarinet soaring into the air, has been the subject of hundreds of pieces of art and hundreds of thousands of photos by delighted photographers, professional and amateur capturing the spirit of New Orleans. Fine art featuring her as the subject appear at Harrah's Hotel & Casino in New Orleans, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, a hospital, and many other installations. Fine artists who have used Doreen Ketchens for inspiration include:
- Ryan Calloway
- John Hartman
- Bill Ives
- Silvia Heller
- Fine Art America
- Jeff Rease
Jazz and Music Festivals
Jazz & Music festivals Doreen Ketchens has performed at:
- New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
- French Quarter Festival
- Satchmo SummerFest, New Orleans, LA.
- Iowa State Fair, Des Moines, IA.
- Dubuque Winter Jazz Festival, Dubuque, IA
- Modesto 11th Street Jazz Festival, Modesto, CA.
- 31st International Homecoming Festival, Calais, ME.
Filmography & Videography
Fan and media videos of her performances have been seen globally by millions of people on YouTube and other social media outlets with one video by the NOLA Insider Guide on Facebook reaching more than 3.9M people by October 2015. Professional performances and performances in feature films and television programs include:
|2013||"Civil Dysfunction Meets Civil Disobedience"||Treme||HBO||Herself|
|2013||"Yes, Yes We Can"||Treme||HBO||Herself|
|2013||Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor||Singer|
|2006||Doreen's Jazz New Orleans Live in Korea 2006||DNJO Records||DVD||Herself|
|2015||Doreen's Jazz New Orleans Live in New Orleans 2015||DNJO Records||DVD||Herself|
- This Train - New Orleans Calling, WWOZ.org
|2015||Doreen's Jazz New Orleans Volume XXIV |
Live In Concert
|2014||Doreen's Jazz New Orleans Volume XXII |
Dorian Steppin' Out Series Part 1
Dorian Did Dat!
|2014||Doreen's Jazz New Orleans Volume XXIII |
Dorian Steppin' Out Series Part 2
Dorian Did Dat Again!!! You Go Girl!
|2012||Doreen's Jazz XXI Triple Threat Series Part IV |
Something Extra Little Drummer Girl
|2012||Doreen's Jazz XX Triple Threat Series Part III |
Who Dat Playin On The Streets?
|2012||Doreen's Jazz XVIV Triple Threat Series Part II |
"Blaclisted" Hate Has Made Us Great!
|2011||Doreen's Jazz XVIII Triple Threat Series |
New Orlean's Best Kept Secrets
|2006||Volume XVII |
Finally (Part 2)
|2006||Doreen's Jazz Volume XVI |
Finally (Part 1)
|2003||The Band! The Band||DJNO Records|
|2002||Doreen's Jazz Volume XIV |
|2001||Doreen's Jazz New Orleans - Volume XI |
What A Wonderful World
|2001||Volume XII - Jackson Square Jam!||DJNO Records|
|2001||A New Orleans Christmas||DJNO Records|
|1999||Doreen's Jazz New Orleans -Volume IX |
2 for 2000 "Swing Out"
|1999||Doreen's Jazz New Orleans - Volume X |
2 for 2000 Show Your 'Tits' At Mardi Gras
|1998||Doreen's Jazz New Orleans -Volume VIII |
God Is My Rock
|1997||Doreen's Jazz New Orleans -Volume VII |
Crescent City Swing
|1996||Doreen's Jazz New Orleans - Volume VI |
|1995||Doreen's Jazz New Orleans - Volume V |
Mama Don't Want
|1994||Taipei '94||DJNO Records|
|2015||On Jackson Square and Royal Street||New Orleans Calling||WWOZ||FM Radio|