Sancton, Tom 1949- (Thomas Sancton, Tommy Sancton)

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Sancton, Tom 1949- (Thomas Sancton, Tommy Sancton)


Born 1949, in New Orleans, LA. Education: Attended Harvard University.


Writer, journalist, memoirist, and jazz musician. Freelance journalist and musician, 2001—. Time, former Paris bureau chief. Recordings include Galvanized Washboard Band, 1968.


(With Scott MacLeod) Death of a Princess: The Investigation, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Gilles Delafon) Dear Jacques, Cher Bill: au Coeur de l'Elysée et de la Maison Blanche, 1995-1999, Plon (Paris, France), 1999.

Song for My Fathers: A New Orleans Story in Black and White (memoir), Other Press (New York, NY), 2006.

The Armageddon Project, Other Press (New York, NY), 2007.


Writer, journalist, and musician Tom Sancton was born and grew up in New Orleans, where he was surrounded with the best jazz the city had to offer. In Song for My Fathers: A New Orleans Story in Black and White, Sancton pens a memoir about his early life in New Orleans, Louisiana, and about the men he considers his fathers, both his biological sire and the diverse group of black and Creole jazz musicians who taught Sancton to play and who encouraged his lifelong involvement in music. As a youngster, Sancton knew the type of inspired music that originated in the legendary jazz performance venue, Preservation Hall. He was encouraged by his father to associate with the musicians there, and soon Sancton was being taught to play by some of the greats, including clarinetist George Lewis. He began to participate in the cultural rituals that defined "the mens" and their lives, including all-day funeral processions punctuated by lilting jazz and in performance at Preservation Hall. Sancton struggled to keep his life as a white teenager and a jazz musician separate. However, his association with these immensely talented, profoundly human musicians brought him vivid realization that the civil rights movement, then burgeoning throughout the country, was a true and righteous cause. As he grew and developed as both man and musician, Sancton made the best of a complicated relationship with his biological father, himself a failed writer with regrets of goals not reached, who wanted only the best for his son and who struggled to provide opportunities he did not have. Through his experiences, Sancton became "one of the best artists of the pure New Orleans Sound," commented a biographer on the E.I.J. Web site.

William G. Kenz, writing in Library Journal, called Song for My Fathers "a memoir in the truest sense of the word," in which Sancton discovers "life at its most meaningful and bittersweet." "The cacophony of jazz voices that made up New Orleans jump off the pages of this beautifully and soulfully written memoir," remarked Esther Friedman in Edge Magazine, and "important jazz figures spring to life in lively conversation, and lovely descriptive narrative." A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that "Sancton's great public service is to usher these unique artists—almost all of whom are now dead—back onto the stage for one more encore."



Song for My Fathers: A New Orleans Story in Black and White (memoir), Other Press (New York, NY), 2006.


Austin Chronicle, June 30, 2006, Robert Gabriel "Phases & Stages," review of Song for My Fathers.

Edge Magazine, May 30, 2006, Esther Friedman, review of Song for My Fathers.

Entertainment Weekly, June 9, 2006, Larry Blumenfeld, review of Song for My Fathers, p. 143.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2006, review of Song for My Fathers, p. 339.

Library Journal, May 1, 2006, William G. Kenz, review of Song for My Fathers, p. 88.

Publishers Weekly, March 6, 2006, review of Song for My Fathers, p. 55; April 17, 2006, V.R. Peterson, "PW Talks with Tom Sancton: Voices in His Mind's Ear," interview with Tom Sancton, p. 176.


E.I.J. Web site, (December 13, 2006), biography of Tom Sancton.