What do dueling pianos and the Hurricane cocktail have in common? Which southern cities compete for the title of Birthplace of Dueling Pianos? Where does girl power fit in to this story? And what does this have to do with me?! We'll answer all these questions and share more surprising facts about the history of our craft in this (very) brief account of the origins of dueling pianos.
Hurricanes + Dueling Pianos = Fun 🍹
The inception of the dueling pianos concept came about when the proprietors of Pat O'Briens in New Orleans created in 1937 not only that deliciously tropical rum concoction but also the singalong piano format. The incorporation of modern music, audience interaction, college fight song battles, and the song request procedure all originated with these shows.
Girl Power 💪
Before Cher, Madonna, and Beyonce, there was Mercedes. This one-named wonder was a staple at Pat O'Briens on and off for 32 years and is widely considered to be the first to popularize the singalong piano format. Connie Kay and Sara Belle "Sue" Wheeler joined Mercedes on stage and these trailblazing women became the pioneers of the modern day dueling piano show. With a powerful team of lady rockstars making it look easy in the Big Easy, Pat O'Briens continues the longstanding institution of piano bar divas to this day.
Mercedes at Pat O'Brien's circa 1950
The next chapter of Dueling Pianos History is dominated by male duelers, so Piano Party (owned and operated by a female piano entertainer and specializing in all-female shows) is quite proud to carry on the elite and illustrious tradition of lady duelers stepping into the spotlight!
Southern Singalong Tradition 🎹
In 1986, a piano bar in Dallas called Alley Cats sought to continue the New Orleans singalong show tradition. Their talented team revived the concept with a mixture of rock 'n' roll, comedy, and of course lots of audience participation. The popularity of the dueling piano show spread like wildfire and piano bars popped up all over the United States and globally.
Dueling Pianos and You 👉
The current popularity of dueling pianos makes it possible for almost anyone to find themselves part of the show, and it's not just at piano bars anymore. Not only can you find singalong piano entertainment on cruise ships, at casinos, and in theaters and performing arts venues, but portable piano shows are available for corporate events, weddings, community functions. holiday parties, practically any festive happening imaginable. If you'd like your next event to go down in dueling pianos history, contact us to invite Piano Party to your next celebration and cement your place in the annals of singalong music history!
Sources: Offbeat Magazine, New Orleans Past, PianoBarDivas.com, Wikipedia