The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has become one of the biggest annual music events in the country, bringing a diverse lineup of artists from all genres to The Big Easy each year. The festival consistently draws some of the biggest names in music, so it’s no surprise that the 2015 lineup is star-studded. This year’s superstar lineup includes everything from big-name pop stars and country singers to rappers and legendary rock groups, but the festival still remains grounded in the New Orleans jazz tradition, and features some of the world’s best jazz musicians and bands as well. Read on for an in-depth look at some of this year’s biggest draws, as well as a full listing of the 100+ performers, and let us know in the comments section below which acts you’re most excited to see at the 2015 New Orleans Jazz Fest.
Headlining the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival this year is none other than music superstar Elton John. His career spans five decades, over which he has sold millions of records and had over fifty top 40 hits, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. Throughout his career, he has received a multitude of awards and honors – everything from numerous Grammy Awards to a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II – and has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Naturally, he is regarded as one of the most influential musicians of all time, and to this day is still making new music and touring, continuing to leave a lasting impact on the industry.
The Who, considered one of the all-time greatest rock bands, will be making an appearance at this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival as part of their 50th anniversary tour. With the classic lineup of Roger Daltrey on lead vocals, Pete Townshend on guitar, Keith Moon on drums, and John Entwistle on bass, The Who has been regarded as a legendary rock band for decades, playing a key part in the British Invasion of the 1960s. Despite the tragic losses of Moon and Entwistle over the years, The Who still remains active today with Daltrey and Townshend continuing to write and perform music. In 2014, they released the hits compilation album “The Who Hits 50,” which included the band’s first new material in nearly a decade.
Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band
Jimmy Buffet is viewed as a pop culture icon thanks to laid-back classics like “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” that appeal to the beach bum in all of us. Born and raised in the Gulf Coast area, Buffett took that easygoing lifestyle with him when he moved to Nashville to start his career, and it is clearly reflected in his music. Throughout his career, he has recorded almost thirty albums, many of which have been certified gold or platinum. Together with his Coral Reefer Band, he regularly sells out huge concert venues to his devoted fan base, affectionately referred to as Parrotheads.
Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
At first glance, it may seem like Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett are polar opposites – one is a young and provocative pop star with crazy hair colors and wild outfits, the other an 88-year-old man who sings traditional, old-school jazz. However, when these two came together, it became clear to all that they certainly have at least one thing in common: talent. What seemed at first like the unlikeliest of duos suddenly made sense once the world heard their collaborative effort. Anyone quick to dismiss Gaga as just another pop star and record label product would surely change his or her mind and recognize that she is clearly quite talented, and she and Bennett complement each other perfectly. Their joint album, “Cheek to Cheek,” features the pair singing classic jazz standards and received a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album this year.
Few groups in the ’90s achieved the popularity and success of No Doubt. With the unstoppable charisma of frontwoman/”it” girl Gwen Stefani and their unique fusion of new wave and ska, it didn’t take long for the band to become a chart-topping pop act and MTV staple. A series of hit albums kept them relevant into the 2000s, with multiple Grammy Awards and nominations as well as multi-platinum sales. Stefani released two successful solo albums in 2004 and 2006, and after a nearly five-year hiatus, the band reunited for a North American tour in 2009. No Doubt released their sixth studio album “Push And Shove” in 2012, which marked the release of the band’s first new material in almost a decade.
Australian country musician Keith Urban is more than just a successful recording artist; he’s a true celebrity. In addition to being a popular country singer, Urban has appeared as a judge on American Idol and the Australian version of The Voice, not to mention he’s also Mr. Nicole Kidman. After having taken the Australian country music scene by storm and achieving a few number one hits there, he moved to Nashville to be in the birthplace of the music he loved. It didn’t take long for America to catch on, and since his relocation Urban has had several multi-platinum albums and radio hits, cementing his position as a country superstar.
Miami-based rapper Pitbull, born Armando Perez, made his official debut rapping on Lil Jon’s 2002 album “Kings of Crunk.” He has since built up the reputation as an international music sensation, with two #1 albums on Billboard’s Rap Albums charts and several others cracking the top 5, and his celebrity has led to huge sponsorship deals with brands like Kodak, Bud Lite, and Dr. Pepper. In recent years, he has worked with a handful of superstar pop artists like Usher, Ke$ha, Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez, and Janet Jackson. Pitbull, aka Mr. 305, was even granted a key to the city of Miami for his commitment to his hometown and embodiment of the city’s culture.
As a nine-time Grammy Award winner, multi-platinum-selling artist, devoted social activist, and one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Infuential People, John Legend (born John Stephens) indeed lives up to his name. As a child growing up in Ohio, he was somewhat of a prodigy, excelling in music and attending the University of Pennsylvania when he was only 16. In 2004, he released his debut album on Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, which launched his career and earned him critical acclaim and three Grammy Awards. Throughout his career, he has penned several hit songs, and his recent single “All of Me” reached #1. Carrying that success into the new year, he just won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for his song “Glory,” which was featured in the movie “Selma.”
English singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran recorded his first two albums when he was only a teenager before moving to London to focus on his music career. Through extensive touring and internet exposure, Sheeran built up a following and earned the support of artists like Elton John and Jamie Foxx. After appearing on Taylor Swift’s 2012 album “Red” and penning songs for popular boy band One Direction, Sheeran was suddenly an international star. Now, he’s all over the radio and selling out huge arena shows. His 2014 album “x” reached the #1 spot in several countries, and was recently nominated for two Grammy awards.
Lenny Kravitz is known for his musical style that transcends genre, with songs that incorporate elements of rock, soul, and funk among other influences. He has won four consecutive Grammy Awards, and currently holds the record for most wins in the category of Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. He has sold millions of albums and collaborated with everyone from Madonna to Jay-Z to Mick Jagger. Recently, Kravitz has branched out from his music career and ventured into acting, appearing in films like the Oscar-nominated “Precious” as well as the hit series “The Hunger Games.” However, he has by no means abandoned music, and released his tenth studio album, “Strut,” in 2014.
Rapper T.I. established himself as one of the most successful artists of the 2000s with a string of major hits within a few years. Between 2003 and 2008, T.I. released five albums, all of which broke the top ten in the U.S. and were designated platinum. He underwent many ups and downs after that, inciting a lot of controversy through rivalries with other rappers and getting in trouble with the law, but nonetheless his career did not suffer. His most recent album, “Paperwork,” dropped in 2014 and features appearances from artists like Chris Brown, Usher, Pharrell Williams, and Iggy Azalea.
One of the longest-running and most successful groups out there, Chicago is the first American rock band to chart Top 40 albums in six different decades. According to Billboard chart statistics, the band is one of the most successful American rock groups of all time, both in terms of albums and singles. Formed, of course, in Chicago in the late ’60s, Chicago has remained an active band since the beginning, even through shifting lineups and style changes. Now in their 46th consecutive year of touring (!), Chicago is still going strong, and the band just released a new album in July 2014.
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue
New Orleans native Troy Andrews, otherwise known as Trombone Shorty, was born into a musical family and began performing at a very young age. He started playing trombone when he was just six years old, and it soon became his primary instrument. Throughout his career, he has worked with artists like U2, Green Day, Lenny Kravitz, and Cee Lo Green, and has even performed at the White House. As a solo artist, he performs with his longtime band, Orleans Avenue. Trombone Shorty’s latest album, “Say That to Say This,” came out in 2013.
Andrew Hozier-Byrne, aka Hozier, is an Irish singer-songwriter who has gained tremendous success recently with his gospel and blues-inspired single “Take Me to Church.” The wise-beyond-his-years twenty-something singer grew up as the son of a blues musician, so it’s no wonder he adds that influence to his music and does it so well. He released his self-titled debut album near the end of 2014, and his song “Take Me to Church” received a nomination for a Grammy Award for Song of the Year.
Formed in Athens, Georgia in the late ’80s, Widespread Panic has earned the reputation as one of the leading Southern rock and jam bands out there. Like many jam bands, Widespread Panic built up their following through extensive touring and compelling live shows, and they were soon performing in front of huge crowds of thousands of people. The band currently holds the record for most sold-out performances at Colorado’s famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. Although original guitarist Michael Houser passed away in 2002 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, the band carried on at his request and has remained active to this day.
Jerry Lee Lewis
One of the great pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll music, Jerry Lee Lewis came to attention in 1957 with his hit song “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” Nicknamed “The Killer,” Lewis gained the reputation of a wild rock ‘n’ roller, popular with young audiences that embraced his boisterous performances, manic energy, and incredible piano skills. Over the years he has established a lasting legacy, with a multitude of classic hits, a movie made about his life, and an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Through it all he has never stopped touring, and even now at age 79 he continues to be the relentless “Killer” he’s been for decades.
Ryan Adams is one of the few alt-country artists out there who has achieved mainstream success. After the breakup of his band Whiskeytown, Adams made his solo debut in 2000 with his album “Heartbreaker,” which was met with rave reviews and an endorsement by the likes of Elton John. He continued to rise to fame with his follow-up album “Gold.” The album’s lead single, “New York, New York,” became an anthem in the aftermath of 9/11, and Adams found himself in the spotlight yet again. Throughout his career, he has released fourteen studio albums, most recently his self-titled effort in 2014. In addition to his own work, he has established himself as a prominent producer, having worked with artists like Willie Nelson, Fall Out Boy, and Jenny Lewis.
Steve Winwood is known for his successful solo career as well as being a member of several successful rock groups. After playing with bands like Traffic and the supergroup Blind Faith (which he formed with guitar legend Eric Clapton), Winwood embarked on a solo career, releasing his first self-titled album in 1977. Throughout the 1980s, he established himself as a pop icon with several huge hits, including his Grammy-winning #1 “Higher Love.”
Wilco formed from the remaining members of alt country band Uncle Tupelo after the group’s disbandment in 1994. Fronted by vocalist/guitarist Jeff Tweedy, Wilco released their debut album “A.M.,” a collection of country-rock songs remniscent of the music of Uncle Tupelo. From then on, the band’s sound took on more of an experimental alternative country style. Their new, more eclectic sound earned them plenty of critical acclaim, particularly for their 2002 effort “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” which topped several year-end lists and was designated one of the best albums of the 2000s by Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and many more.
The Meters: Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli, George Porter, Jr., & Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Alison Krauss & Union Station
“Dr. John: Off Da Hook!”, A Louis Armstrong Celebration
Shovels & Rope
Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk With Guest Art Neville
The Taj Mahal Trio
Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
Cassandra Wilson Coming Forth By Day: A Celebration of Billie Holiday
Charles Lloyd Quartet
Juvenile & Mannie Fresh Together
Kermit Ruffins & The BBQ Swingers
The Blind Boys of Alabama
Big Freedia “Queen of Bounce”
Jimmie Vaughan & Tilt A Whirl Band feat. Lou Ann Barton
Galactic featuring Macy Gray
Rebirth Brass Band
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
John P. Kee and New Life
Christian McBride Big Band With Special Guests Dianne Reeves and Jeffrey Osborne
Irvin Mayfield & The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
Pastor Marvin Sapp
Terence Blanchard E-Collective
BWB featuring Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, & Norman Brown
Shooter Jennings with Waymore’s Outlaws
Cecile Mclorin Salvant
Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn
Davell Crawford Presents “To Fats With Love” A Tribute to Fats Domino
The Wild Magnolias
Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials
Big Sam’s Funky Nation
Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen
Donald Harrison Jr.
Glen David Andrews
La Santa Cecilia
Walter “Wolfman” Washington & The Roadmasters
Monty Alexander: Harlem-Kingston Express
Vieux Farka Toure
Ms. Ruby Wilson’s Tribute to Bessie Smith feat. Brian “Breeze” Cayolle
Ironing Board Sam
Pine Leaf Boys: Louisiana Music
Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Creole String Beans
The New Orleans Suspects
Eagle and Hawk
Honey Island Swamp Band
The Soul Rebels
Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9
Jewel Brown with Gregg Stafford’s Jazz Hounds
Big Chief Walter Cook & The Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians
Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & The Golden Eagles
Young Guardians of the Flame
White Cloud Hunters Mardi Gras Indians
Young Men Olympia Aid SA & PC
Divine Ladies SA & PC
Big Four and Original Four SA & PC
Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church Mass Choir
The Sensational Chosen Voices
Rosie Ledet & The Zydeco Playboys
Ottertrail Native American Dance Troupe
Rising Dragon Lion Dance Team
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