Johnette Downing and Scott Billington Biography
Johnette and Scott are the foremost children’s music performers in Louisiana, offering a program of toe-tapping, interactive, and authentic roots music that both children and parents will enjoy and long remember. Their programs of almost all-original songs bring the sounds of Cajun music, zydeco, traditional jazz, Isleño culture, swamp pop and New Orleans rhythm and blues to life for young ears. Johnette’s gift for communicating with children is matched by smart musicianship and songs that make their tour of Louisiana’s rich cultural landscape fun for all in attendance.
Johnette Downing developed a love of music at an early age. As a child, her tuba-and-violin playing father and her saxophone-and-piano playing mother took Johnette and her siblings to the French Quarter in New Orleans, where they would stand in the doorways of clubs listening to jazz and ragtime. Her passion for roots music and for sharing music with children, in the way her parents had shared it with her, led Johnette to her career as “the Musical Ambassador to Children” and the “Pied Piper of Louisiana Music Traditions” (as media and clients have come to call her). She continues to bring her Louisiana roots music to children in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, Central America, North America and the Caribbean. The 2017 Louisiana Writer Award recipient, she has received twenty-two international awards for her twenty-four books and eleven recordings for children, including a 59th Grammy Award Participant Certificate. Johnette has teamed up with her harmonica-playing husband Scott Billington, who shares her passion for roots music, to form “Johnette and Scott,” a children’s musical duo.
Scott Billington's multifaceted career in the music business began when his mother traded a book of Green Stamps for a harmonica, which she gave the 11-year-old as a Christmas present. By the time he was 16, he was performing in New England coffeehouses and clubs. Pursuing his love of blues and roots music, Scott went to work for Rounder Records in the mid-1970s. He has since produced over 100 albums of roots-oriented music for Rounder and other labels, which have won three Grammy® awards and 11 Grammy® nominations. Other awards include the Sweet Soul Music Award (Italy), the Keepin' the Blues Alive Award (Memphis), and the Offbeat (New Orleans) Lifetime Achievement Award. In recognition of his work in Louisiana, Scott was appointed a Louisiana Colonel by Governor Edwin W. Edwards. His performances as a duet with Johnette Downing again bring his harmonica skills to the fore, in their program of roots music for children.