Henry Butler
« Back

An eight-time nominee for the W.C. Handy Best Blues Instrumentalist - Piano award, Henry Butler crafts a sound uniquely his own. Although blinded by glaucoma from birth, Butler has played piano since the age of six. He is also a world class photographer whose work is displayed at exhibitions throughout the United States. His music is a rich amalgam of jazz, Caribbean, classical, pop, blues, and R&B influences that combines the percussive jazz piano playing of McCoy Tyner and the New Orleans style of Professor Longhair.

In addition to the piano, Butler mastered baritone horn, valve trombone, and drums as a youngster at the Louisiana State School for the Blind in Baton Rouge, and later began formal vocal training that led to a master's degree in vocal music. Mentored by influential jazz clarinetist Alvin Batiste, he was also encouraged to explore Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, and other Caribbean music. Butler has taught music workshops throughout the country and has initiated a number of educational projects, including a residential jazz camp at Missouri State School for the Blind and a program for blind and visually impaired students at the University of New Orleans.

While his early albums were jazz trio recordings with other noted instrumentalists, Butler increasingly turned to New Orleans music and the blues in the 1990s, and his fascination with the blues continues to be reflected in his solo work. For the album Homeland in 2004, he brought a blues and R&B band into the studio for the first time, allowing him to feel closer to his roots.