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Narvin Kimball, Preservation Hall Jazz Band Founder, Dies

Narvin Kimball, the last founding member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, died March 17 at his daughter’s home in Charleston, S.C., at age 97. The band’s vocalist and banjo player, Kimball continually received standing ovations for his rendition of “Georgia on My Mind.”

Kimball was born into a music family, as his father was a bassist, and Kimball began playing professionally on riverboats in the 1920s. He made his first record for Columbia in 1928. Kimball formed his own band, the Gentlemen of Jazz, and played around New Orleans for 40 years. In addition to his music career, Kimball also worked for the U.S. Post Office for 37 years.

Kimball recorded two solo albums in recent years, 1994’s Narvin Kimball & Friends and 1999’s Ninety and Still Delivering. It was that same year that Kimball last appeared with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a PBS performance. Not long afterwards, he suffered a series of strokes and was unable to continue playing.

Kimball is survived by his wife, Lillian; two daughters; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Originally Published