TOP MUSICAL DOCTORS
Our cover for this, our annual Top Doctors issue, is of Rene A. Louapre III, an internist whose family name is as well known as his medical practice. The doctor’s dad, Rene Jr., was, during his time, the city’s best-known orchestra leader. It was the Rene Louapre Orchestra that played the grand marches as Rex, Comus and their Queens marched around the floor and also provided the dance music for all the society balls. In his interview Louapre (the doctor) reveals that he played the trumpet during his medical school days.
This got me to thinking about who would be on our list if we covered “Top Musical Doctors.” Since physicians tend to be bright people with good analytical skills, there are probably many who are also decent musicians. However, for the sake of this list we’ve expanded the time frame and come up with three names that had their own beat.
3. Frank Minyard. His reputation mostly comes from being the city’s long time coroner, which makes the contrast even greater when a person whose job deals with death steps on stage with his trumpet. Minyard is a respectable musician whose passion is jazz. When he performs publicly, it’s frequently as part of fund raising benefits. Blessed is the coroner who can also serve the living.
2. Quinn Peeper. His medical specialty is obstetrics; his musical specialty is classical piano. He has performed at Carnegie Hall and in 1991, he was the winner of the piano competition at the Giornale Musical Festival in Torentino, Italy. No honky-tonk pianist, Peeper has been active at Christ Church Cathedral partially to preserve the church’s “standard of excellence in music.”
1. Edmond “Doc” Souchon. Like Peeper, Souchon’s field was obstetrics. His reputation as a musician dates back to his days as a student at Tulane University when, in 1915, he was part of the 6-7/8 band, which played lively music akin to what was yet to be named as “jazz.” He was part of the music’s evolution. A favorite story about Souchon was that on Mardi Gras morning 1949, he was torn between being with his daughter Dolly, who was Rex’s Queen that year, and seeing his idol Louis Armstrong, who was serving as Zulu. Souchon made a dash that morning to see Armstrong prepare for his parade before heading to his paternal duties on the Rex viewing stand. His music is still on the market – you can even find him on amazon.com, which has a vintage album featuring Souchon on the banjo entitled “Doc Souchon, Early New Orleans Minstrel Days and Blues.”
I suspect that all three doctors know that when a person is diagnosed with the blues, music can be a powerful tonic.