Honoring the Life of Theodore Emile ``Bo’’ Dollisby Representative Cedric L. Richmond
Posted on 2015-01-22
RICHMOND. Mr. Speaker, before we left after this workweek, I
wanted to make sure that I came to the floor and took the time to
recognize the loss of a cultural icon in New Orleans and a family
Today, Mr. Speaker, I rise to honor the life of Theodore Emile ``Bo'' Dollis, the Big Chief of the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians and a cultural icon in New Orleans for decades. Bo Dollis died this week at the age of 71.
Though his family did not want him to join the Mardi Gras Indians as a child, Bo secretly sewed his own suit at his friend's home. He joined the Wild Magnolias as a Flag Boy and quickly rose in their ranks, becoming Big Chief in 1964, a position he held until his health no longer allowed it.
As Big Chief, just as his mentor, Big Chief Allison ``Tootie'' Montana, did, Bo encouraged the Indians to shun violence and instead hold prettiness contests when one group would meet another. Bo was also instrumental in bringing the music of the Mardi Gras Indians to an audience beyond New Orleans. With Bo Dollis on lead vocals, the Wild Magnolias recorded their first single in 1970 and their first album in 1974. Under Bo's leadership, the group toured all over the world, opened for Aretha Franklin, and played at Carnegie Hall. This week, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival announced [[Page H520]] that Bo Dollis would appear on the festival's official poster. Bo has received numerous honors and awards, including Offbeat Magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship.
Mr. Speaker, Bo Dollis embodied the happiness, the passion, and love of music that define the culture of New Orleans. His soaring voice brought joy to countless listeners, and his colorful personality brightened every room he entered. The city of New Orleans will not be the same without Bo Dollis, but his legacy will live on in the lives of all that he inspired. And this Mardi Gras will not be the same without Big Chief ``Bo'' Dollis' presence there.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.