Updated: Jun 23, 2019
When I was a teenager living in Livingston Parish, I would catch a Greyhound bus on the weekends to the city to visit my brother who lived in the French Quarter! My mother gave me a twenty dollar bill for "spending money!" I’d get off the bus, drop my bags at his place and run to Canal street to one of the Woolworth’s or the Odyssey Record Store to buy records. The Ritchie Family "American Generation" was one of the records I found in the fifty cent bin at Woolworth's! The cover had the three members in two piece bikinis with football pads, hockey sticks and helmets!
I moved to Manhattan after Katrina and met a boy from Brooklyn named Eddie who said he wanted to become a Buddhist and chant the "Nam Myo Renge Kyo" just like Tina Turner. We went to our first Buddhist gathering held in her apartment building located on the corner of 43rd and 9th Avenue. Ednah-"that's Ednah with an H” apartment was full of memorabilia from her show biz career. The “American Generation” album hung on her wall. I asked if she knew any of the Ritchie Family and she said that was her "skinny little ass" in the white bikini! Next to it was a “Talking Heads-Stop Making Sense" gold record. it was her and her friend Lynn Maybry who were the backup singer/dancers in the movie and on the record. She was also in the Bryan Ferry New Town performance video and she had backed him up at Live Aid.
She told me stories of her friends Sylvester, Phyllis Hyman, and Luther Vandross, of when she met Roland Gift of the Fine Young Cannibals, “who was the finest man I’ve ever met” with rollers in her hair, and tales of the night the Ritchies performed with Grace Jones at Studio 54. She even toured with the Police. She‘s a teacher and a great storyteller!
When I moved back home to New Orleans and started doing portraiture, she flew me up to the city to photograph her. She rented studio space and hired a makeup artist. I’ve learned many things photographing people. The lesson for me this time was to make sure if your working with other creatives on a shoot, make sure they are a positive influence for the muse and are capable of doing the job that they are hired to do! The makeup artist did a crappy job and worse yet had a crappy attitude! My friend Ednah was a joy to work with and with us being friends, the connection was already established! The “connection” between photographer and subject is the most important thing for photos! Their unique specialness and beauty are what makes each photograph different. If I worked with this makeup artist now, I would have gotten rid of her and just did the job myself! She did not want to be there.
We got some ok studio shots, but not like we got when we shot in her surroundings! It was a whole different energy and it shows through! We did shots in her building and in Times Square and really had a joyous time with it!
I love my friend Ednah with an H Holt, who taught me many great things!