The House of the Rising Sun

The first time I heard of a gay bar in New Orleans called the UpStairs Lounge was June 12, 2016, the day after a man committed a horrific mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida which killed 49 people and wounded 53 others. The macabre reason the UpStairs Lounge had been mentioned in the same article was that the fire there in 1973—an arson attack which killed 32 patrons—had been the largest mass murder of LGBTQs in the United States up until that point. In other words, the memory of the folks killed in 1973—largely forgotten outside of New Orleans—had been dredged up simply because more people had just been killed in a single event 43 years later almost to the day.

When I did some research into what had happened at the UpStairs Lounge I found a heartbreaking story, and June 24, 2018 will mark the 45th anniversary of this horrible tragedy. In wanting to write something to memorialize the victims, I decided to recast the folksong, “The House of the Rising Sun.” It seemed like the perfect fit; the modern incarnation of the song takes place explicitly in New Orleans, and the House itself has always been portrayed in the lyrics of the various versions as a place where people shunned by society for some reason or another gather to be together.

In my version, the House of the Rising Sun is a simulacrum for the UpStairs Lounge on the night of the arson attack, and the song features specific allusions to the events of that night as well as the fact that, near the corner of the building in the French Quarter where the tragedy occurred, there is a memorial plaque embedded in the sidewalk. Their memory lingers on...

Beth Beauchamp

Having worked as a professional musician, a music-educator, and the Executive Director of a number of non-profit arts organizations, Beth has over 10 years of experience in catering to the unique needs of artists. Beth believes that the talent, education, and skill-sets of her clients have inherent worth. As a passionate artist advocate, she aims to help her artists improve the quality of their own lives by encouraging them to honor the value of their own work, and by creating materials which allow them to champion their art with confidence. Equally interested in building community, Beth aims to create a roster of artists who are excited to support and collaborate together.