Mark Samuels was born in 1962 in Denver, Colorado, moving to New Orleans with his family when he was six years old. He is the founder and executive director of Basin Street Records, an independent record label based in New Orleans. Mark actively participates in the community, including volunteering with Satchmo Summer Jazz Camp and serving on the board of Louisiana Appleseed. He has three children, Geoffrey, Eric, and Naomi.
Mark shares stories of his childhood, and his deep connection to music that started from a young age. His wife, Patti, died in a car accident in 2000. She had been active in the Jewish community and took their children to services. Mark describes how his wife's death impacted his relationship to the Jewish community, though he still believes in it's importance for his children. He chronicles his evacuation to Memphis from New Orleans with his parents, children, and girlfriend. They quickly realized the damage was extensive on Monday after news of the levees breaking reached them. Mark decided to move his kids to Austin, looking for a place with a robust Jewish community, and remained there for the rest of the school year. Mark frequently went to New Orleans to take care of his business and home, which suffered extensive water damage. Due to the financial loss, he had to let go of his staff and start performing all the work himself. Mark shares details about the musicians he worked with and the interworkings of his business. In the next months, he faced difficulties with the government and the rebuilding efforts. Mark strongly criticizes the mayor and governor. While the tourist areas had been rebuilt, many people still couldn't return to the city due to the damage. Mark details his history with the jazz community/industry and how it changed after the storm. Mark believes his strength stems from the previous hardships he's faced. Mark has a positive outlook on the future of New Orleans and his business.
How to cite this page
Oral History of Mark Samuels. Interviewed by Rosalind Hinton. 2 August 2007. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on November 29, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/samuels-mark>.
Oral History of Mark Samuels by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.