When singer Lillian Boutté was named New Orleans musical ambassador in 1986, she was the second jazz legend in the city's history to be accorded this honor—the first having been none other than Louis Armstrong.
It has always been Boutté’s driving desire to bring the musical heartbeat of her hometown nearer to the ears of the world. Over a period of 15 years and with the help of 17 albums featuring jazz, pop, blues, soul, and gospel, she has succeeded in conveying the city's unique atmosphere to an international audience. During the last 13 years, she has been touring almost nonstop, doing concerts, club dates, and festivals all over the world.
At the tender age of 11, Boutté won her first singing contest. During her musical studies at New Orleans' Xavier University, she sang in the gospel choir, before being discovered by Allen Toussaint. Toussaint used her as a background singer when producing the likes of James Booker, Patti Labelle, the Neville Brothers, the Pointer Sisters, and Dr. John. Next she went on a five-year world tour as an actor, singer, and dancer in the musical One Mo’ Time. During this same time, she made her first solo recordings.
She has appeared in two movies: the critically-acclaimed Stevenson-Pallifi documentary Piano Players Barely Play Together (alongside Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint, and Tuts Washington) and in a bit part in Alan Parker’s Angel Heart. Together with blues legend Brownie McGee, she can be heard on the soundtrack of Angel Heart. Boutté also sang at the Tennessee Williams memorial service in St. Louis Cathedral in her native New Orleans.