Daniel Price, an artist and graduate of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), loved a good party. So after the shock of his murder in San Francisco nine years ago began to subside, his family couldn’t think of a better way to honor his memory than with a bash for a cause.
“We felt the best way to celebrate Daniel’s life was by throwing a huge party with three of his favorite things – great New Orleans music, amazing art and friends,” said Daniel’s brother Christopher Price.
The result was “Home for the Holidays,” a star-studded showcase of New Orleans talent benefitting the Daniel Price Memorial Fund for Aspiring Artists, which provides college scholarships to outstanding visual arts and music students at NOCCA.
This year, the gala takes place Friday, Dec. 21 from 7:30 p.m. to midnight at the House of Blues, where the musical lineup includes NOCCA alum Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and Orleans Avenue, Kermit Ruffins, Amanda Shaw, Theresa Andersson, John Boutte and the Rebirth Brass Band.
The concert will be preceded by a patron party and silent auction from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. featuring a buffet dinner and open bar along with entertainment by the NOCCA Jazz Ensemble, Andersson and other musical guests.
A native of New Orleans, Price was 28 when he was killed outside his San Francisco apartment while trying to protect his wife from a would-be assailant. The couple had been married for only eight months, and Price had just had his first solo art show at The Canvas Gallery in San Francisco.
Since his death, the gala and memorial fund have raised more than $300,000 and provided scholarships to eight “amazing” NOCCA graduates, said Christopher Price, who serves on the board of the NOCCA Institute, the center’s fund-raising and advocacy organization.
“Daniel was a talented artist whose passion for the music, traditions and people of New Orleans define much of his work,” Christopher Price said. “He credited the (NOCCA) faculty for focusing his passion and refining the skills that led to a successful career as an artist.
“After Daniel’s death, we established the scholarship in Daniel’s honor to enable future generations of young, talented artists to follow their passion,” he said.
Sally Perry, executive director of the NOCCA Institute, said planning the gala each year is a labor of love. She said that while she didn’t know Daniel Price personally, she has no doubts that he was an amazing person. That, she said, is a testament to his parents, Steve and Kathy Price.
“I’ve never known a family that is more loving and generous with their time and their gifts, or more supportive of professional and aspiring artists here in New Orleans than the Prices,” Perry said.
She credits Steve Price in particular with making “Home for the Holidays” such a phenomenal success. While the NOCCA Institute and the House of Blues provide logistical and marketing support, she said, “all of the credit for the event’s success and putting together the musical lineup goes to Dr. Steve Price.
“Steve and his wonderful family are personal friends with so very many musicians in this city, and the musicians give back to NOCCA and to Daniel’s memory because of the love and respect they – and we – feel for the Price family,” she said.
Those musicians include Andrews, one of NOCCA’s most famous graduates and now a member of the NOCCA Institute’s board of directors. Andrews said NOCCA was a “huge factor” in his artistic development, and he feels privileged to participate in an event that will ultimately help other aspiring musicians.
“My time at NOCCA was extremely important to my education and my career so I’m happy to give back,” he said. “More than anything, though, it’s important to me to honor Dr. Price and the memory of his son, Daniel Price. I want to be there for him.”
In addition to Andrews and the other headliners, the lineup includes Chuck Perkins and Spy Boy Honey, Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs, Paul Sanchez, Eric Lindell, the Stanton Moore Trio, Herlin Riley, James Andrews and Rockin’ Dopsie.
Christopher Price said his brother would be thrilled with how the gala has evolved and how its proceeds are being used.
“Daniel possessed a unique joy and, like many New Orleanians, had an ability to celebrate just about anything,” he said. “The event has allowed us to turn an otherwise difficult time into a celebration for Daniel and the things he loved.”
“Daniel and his love for New Orleans and its music truly come to life every December at ‘Home for the Holidays,’” she said. “It’s remarkable to witness.”