Annette Smason, Concert Promoter and Influential Record Store Owner, Dies at 89 | New
Annette Smith Smason, who turned her lifelong love of music into a career as a concert promoter and knowledgeable owner of Smith’s Record Center, died Sunday at the Faith Presbyterian Hospice in Dallas. She was 89 years old.
Her son, Alan Smason, editor of Crescent City Jewish News, said she died of complications from stroke and heart disease. A lifelong New Orleans resident, she was evacuated to Dallas after Hurricane Ida passed, he said.
For more than four decades, music lovers knew that his record store, right next to the Pontchartrain Hotel, was the place to go, especially for recordings of hard-to-find operas and classics, as well as for music. Broadway cast recordings and works. local musicians like Al Hirt, Pete Fountain and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
At the head of this eclectic inventory was Smason, who possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of who played what and when, and on what record label.
Tenor Luciano Pavarotti was a client and friend, Alan Smason said, as were Broadway composers Stephen Sondheim and John Kander.
She was infatuated with Broadway, her son said, and became a friend of Al Hirschfeld, the illustrator whose line drawings of entertainment and show personalities featured regularly in the Sunday New York Times. Her collection of her works included a pen and ink drawing of herself for which she had posed in Hirschfeld’s studio.
The store, which regularly shipped dozens of records to distant customers, had transformed from what had been a card and gift shop that his father, David Smith, had opened next to his drugstore. It closed in 1996, a few years after the Lakeside Shopping Center and Lake Forest Plaza branches closed.
In addition to selling records, Annette Smason; her husband, Arnold; and his brother, Irvin Smith, formed S&S Productions in the early 1960s to host concerts featuring musicians such as Simon and Garfunkel; Pierre, Paul and Marie; Odette ; the Supremes; Miles Davis; and Herb Alpert and Tijuana Brass.
In addition to featuring nationally recognized musicians for about a decade, these concerts gave a boost to up-and-coming artists like Allen Toussaint and Dr. John, as they were often hired to be the first, said Alan Smason.
She and her brother also formed Tune-Kel Records, whose catalog included “This Is the End” by Erroll Dee, for which she wrote the lyrics. Alvin “Red” Tyler provided the music.
All of this activity was a logical continuation of Annette Smason’s infatuation with music that started when she was a child, her son said.
She played trumpet with the Eleanor McMain High School Band and the Purple Jackets, the LSU group that performed before games and at support rallies. She attended LSU and Tulane University but did not graduate.
In addition to her passion for music, Smason was a fan of carnival. She was a 37-year member of the all-female Krewe of Venus until its disbandment in 1992 and then formed the Krewe of Anubis, which was a subtle nod to a 1920s Krewe that had been associated with pharmacists like his father, Alan says Smason.
Her husband died in 1995.
Survivors include her son, Alan Smason, of New Orleans; one daughter, Arlene Wieder, of Solon, Ohio; three grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
The funeral will be held Monday at 2 p.m. at the Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home, 5100 boul. Tours will start at 1:00 p.m. Interment will be in Old Beth Israel Cemetery, 4200 Frenchmen St.