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Loyola recognizes legendary record producer with honorary degree

May 6, 2011

Cosimo Matassa, Grammy Award-winning record producer, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Loyola University New Orleans during its commencement ceremony on May 14.

Born in 1926 and a lifelong resident of New Orleans, Matassa was the founder of J&M Recording Studio, the birthplace of many R&B and rock and roll classics. The Italian-American, self-taught recording engineer graduated from Warren Easton High School and briefly attended the chemistry program at Tulane University. He dropped out of college to work for his father’s jukebox and record retail business on North Rampart Street, and shortly after turned the back room of the shop into a recording studio.

Matassa was skilled at microphone placement and capturing the sound of New Orleans R&B with a naturalistic feel. From 1947-1956, he owned and operated J&M Recording Studio and produced records that helped give birth to rock and roll. It is from these recordings that the term “the New Orleans sound” of music came about, which is also known as “the Cosimo sound.” This unique sound featured strong drums, heavy guitar and bass, light piano, light horn and a strong vocal lead. Along with producer and arranger Dave Bartholomew, Matassa recorded sessions by pioneers such as Fats Domino and Little Richard, among countless others.

He has received many music awards during his lifetime. In 2007, he was honored with a Grammy Trustees Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, and won the Louis Prima Arts & Entertainment Award from the Louisiana American Italian Sports Hall of Fame. He received the Iberville Award from New Orleans Magazine in 1996, and the Big Easy Entertainment Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992.

Last fall, the site where J&M Studios was located on N. Rampart Street was designated by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as an historic rock and roll landmark, one of only 11 such places nationwide.

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