Good Night, Papa
by Geoff Kelly, photos by Cheryl Gorski
Two opportunities to celebrate the life and music of Emile Latimer
On October 23, Emile Latimer, who nearly everyone called Papa, died of complications resulting from a stroke. He was 79.
Papa outlived his two most famous musical collaborators, Richie Havens and Nina Simone. He leaves as a legacy several generations of musicians, here in Buffalo and far afield, for whom he was a teacher, a mentor, and a dear friend. He taught African drumming to school kids and seniors and serious musicians with the same joy and intensity; he opened his home to travelers from abroad; he played his drums for and with everyone, everywhere, anytime. As a teacher and a musician, he could be at turns demanding and generous. As a friend, he was quick with a smile, with help for those who needed it, with advice for those who sought it. His reach was long, as demonstrated last Sunday at the Colored Musicians Club, when friends and fans and musicians gathered to celebrate his life with music and stories. The line of people trying to get into the club to take part stretched down the stairs and into the street.
There will be two more chances in the week to come to remember Papa and the remarkably full life he led.
On Friday, November 1, at 11am, there will be a memorial service at Unitarian Universalist Church at the corner of Elmwood and West Ferry. It’s fitting place: Latimer often played drums for dances there in the 1990s and early 2000s.
On Wednesday, November 6, 6-10pm, there will be a celebration of his life and music at Nietzsche’s, which was one of Papa’s musical homes. Playing djembe and drumkit and guitar, Papa and his bands held down Tuesday nights at Nietzsche’s for many years, and frequently he sat in with other musicians who played at the club. Wednesday evening’s event is sure to bring together a remarkable crowd of musicians and friends, all bound together by Papa.
Both celebrations are open to all.
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