Maynard's Story (Part 1 of 5)
Mr. Maynard Chatters was born on July 10, 1939, in the very home that his father built. Growing up in a family of 16 children with 11 sisters and 4 brothers, music was ever-present in the Chatters household. His mother played the piano and stayed home to raise the children; his father was a postman and played the violin. Maynard recalls his father performing in an eight-piece orchestra, with members of the famed Dolliole family and Handy family stopping by to play.
“Those were the times that you heard brass bands everywhere,” Chatters says. “Those were some of my earliest memories of music.”
Like his 15 siblings, Maynard's first instrument was the violin which he began playing when he was around eight years old. However, Maynard was naturally more drawn to the trumpet. When he was around ten, his older sister Shirley, who taught music at a local school, brought Maynard home a trombone. Reluctant, Maynard set out to learn the instrument in hopes of being able to join his school band.
Growing up in a large musical family, Maynard and his siblings were trained early on in classical music, in the works of Beethoven. His father led the Chatters Family as they performed as a small orchestral group playing the classical repertoire at Dillard University, one of the various locations where Maynard would later teach, and at other schools and functions in the New Orleans area.
As they grew up, Maynard exposed all six of his own children to music. His son, Mark Chatters, has even performed alongside his father at Preservation Hall. His daughter teaches special needs children, and Chatters tutors them weekly. Now as the patriarch of the next generation of the Chatters Family, Maynard continues to dedicate his life to the protection, perpetuation and preservation of traditional New Orleans music.
Featured photo: In 1955, 16-year-old Maynard Chatters, second-to-last on the right, performs with some of his sisters and father in their family orchestral group playing classical repertoire at Dillard University, a school in which Maynard would later teach music. Courtesy of Maynard Chatters.