Songs With the Humphrey Brothers
In this lesson, students will discover songs performed by the Humphrey brothers. They’ll discuss how musicians honor other musicians by covering or remaking their songs. Students will compare the Humphrey brothers’ version of “Bourbon Street Parade” to Paul Barbarins’ original version and other musicians throughout history.
- Gather historical facts about Willie, Earl, and Percy Humphrey.
- Discuss why musicians remake songs.
- Understand how musicians honor other musicians by covering their songs.
- Compare the Humphrey brothers’ version of “Bourbon Street Parade” to versions by other musicians before and after their time.
National Core Arts Standards.
MU:Re7.2.6b Identify the context of music from a variety of genres, cultures, and historical periods.
MU:Re7.2.7b Identify and compare the context of music from a variety of genres, cultures, and historical periods.
MU:Re7.2.8b Identify and compare the context of programs of music from a variety of genres, cultures, and historical periods.
Common Core State Standards
ELA-LITERACY.SL.6.2 Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.
ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.2 Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.
ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
Teachers should review all media and resources prior to teaching the lesson. Students should be familiar with instrument parts and elements of music for analysis and discussion.
- Discuss the Humphrey brothers rise to prominence in New Orleans Jazz. Display the presentation, Songs With the Humphrey Brothers to watch The Humphrey Brothers or read About the Humphrey Brothers. Discuss the musically gifted brothers and ask students if they are familiar with other musical families.
- Ask students: Why do new artists remake old songs? Tell students the Humphrey brothers legacy lives on through their music, style, and influence in the jazz community. Many artists pay tribute to their favorite songs or musicians by performing, recording, or putting a modern twist on cover versions.
- Generate a class list of songs they have heard that are covers of an old song. For example, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin was originally recorded by Otis Redding, the hit song “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston was also a hit when its original version was recorded by Dolly Parton, and Luke Combs’ “Fast Car” is a country version of Tracy Chapman’s original folk rock song.
- Divide students into groups of three to engage in a listening session. Distribute the presentation, Songs With the Humphrey Brothers. Have each group select one song from each Humphrey brother to focus on.
- Once students have selected a song from each brother, have them listen to the song several times. They can note the mood, feelings, style, instruments, tempo (fast or slow), or volume (loud or soft). Students can focus on the role of the instrument they play or would like to learn.
- Draw comparisons between the three brother’s songs. Noting the similarities and differences in each of their styles and the styles of music today.
- Divide students into small groups or pairs. Tell students they are going to engage in another listening session. This time they will listen to versions of the song, “Bourbon Street Parade” through the decades. They’ll listen carefully for similarities and differences, paying close attention to the instrument they play.
- Ask students: Why did musicians like the Humphrey brothers perform this signature song long after Paul Barbarin? What stayed the same and changed over time?
- Have students put their own twist on the song by teaching the lesson, “Bourbon Street Parade.” Complete instrument guides with sheet music and lyrics are available in the lesson plan.
Used with permission. Portions of this work are based on the National Core Arts Standards Copyright © 2015 National Coalition for Core Arts Standards/All Rights Reserved – Rights Administered by SEADAE.
© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.
Roderick Paulin, Curriculum Developer and Music Artist Liaison
JoDee Scissors, Editor and Content Producer