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  • Writer's pictureWild Women Coffee (Cyd)

Queen Clarinet and Chicory

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

I started playing clarinet in the fifth grade. It wasn’t like a dream, I was really trying to get out of a history test! We had a pop quiz one day. It was a brutal test, each student was asked questions – you were either right or wrong, pass or fail. When the first question came to me, I got it wrong. So, I looked out of the window, like I did most days, and I prayed, saying, “God, if you can get me out of this test, I’ll do anything!” Almost simultaneously, the principal spoke over the loudspeaker, and she said, “Anyone interested in joining the band, report immediately to the bandroom.” I was “saved by the bell”! ~The Clarinet 48/2 (March 2021)

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Coffee culture in New Orleans is only surpassed by the music culture. Regarding the coffee, when you're serving coffee with steamed milk next to fried beignets, why add chicory to it? As a caffeine-free root that grinds to a texture similar to coffee, New Orleanians claim that a 70-30 brew of coffee and chicory creates a hot drink with less buzz that may lower cholesterol, control blood sugar and improve gut health. And they say, it tastes good. That's why!

We say, it's not the chicory. It is the music in the streets that makes New Orleans coffee taste so good! Wild Woman Doreen Ketchens, aka Queen Clarinet, is a key to that taste enhancement, entertaining all who gather on her corner whenever she’s not on tour. Her world-renowned band, including husband Lawrence on the tuba and daughter Dorian on drums, has toured internationally and played for presidents, but has had a regular spot at Royal and St. Peter Streets for decades.

Though a classically trained musician, Ketchens has played with all the jazz greats. She attended community college, then Loyola University and finally the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut, studying under Ellis Marsalis and Stanley Weinstein along the way. She gives back by teaching and mentoring enthusiastic young musicians.

An International Clarinet Association interview provides more insight into the life and career of one of our favorite Wild Women…Queen Clarinet!

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