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May 2, 2013 10:49 AM by MELISSA CANONE (Photo by Chris Granger /The Times-Picayune)

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne Unveils restored Fats Domino Piano

Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne is unveiling a newly restored white Steinway grand piano belonging to Louisiana music legend Antoine "Fats" Domino today at 4:30 p.m. at the Old U.S. Mint in New Orleans. The grand piano will become the centerpiece of the Louisiana State Museum's permanent music exhibition opening in late 2014.

Heavily damaged during Hurricane Katrina, the piano was salvaged from Domino's Ninth Ward home and restored with $30,000 in donations to the Louisiana Museum Foundation from music fans worldwide. The largest gift of $18,000 came from Allan Slaight, a retired music producer in Miami with other major gifts from Sir Paul McCartney, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Tipitina's Foundation.

Domino's family has loaned the piano to the Museum to share with the public. His daughters-Adonica Domino, Anola Hartzog, Andrea Brimmer and Antoinette Smith-and other family members will participate in the unveiling and donor recognition ceremony.

"Fats Domino is a seminal figure in American music and he will have a prominent place in the coming Louisiana music exhibit," Lt. Governor Dardenne said. "His beautiful grand piano, fully restored, will serve as the perfect symbol for Louisiana's resilient nature and ever-evolving musical heritage."

Born in New Orleans in 1928, the pianist, singer and songwriter sold more than 65 million records between 1950 and 1963, made Billboard's pop chart 77 times and its R&B chart 61 times.

Featuring multimedia displays and iconic artifacts from the Museum's world-renowned music collection, the exhibit will offer visitors a dynamic encounter with Louisiana music in all its variety-from classical to zydeco. The 9,400-square-foot exhibit space occupying the entire second floor of the Mint is more than double the space of the former jazz museum which was dismantled in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage to the building. The Mint has since undergone major renovations, including the addition of a state-of-the-art performance space for live music, student and adult education programs and other exhibit-related events.

The piano will go on public display at the Mint next month. A second Steinway piano belonging to Domino is on permanent display at the Presbytère in the exhibition Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond.



Louisiana State Museum staff members recover Fats Domino's white Steinway grand piano from the musician's Ninth Ward home following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The restored piano will be a centerpiece of the Museum's Louisiana music exhibit opening in late 2014 at the Old U.S. Mint in New Orleans. (Photo by Chris Granger /The Times-Picayune)

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