Occupation: Pianist and bandleader of Pink Martini
Why He Matters: Thomas Lauderdale’s “little orchestra” Pink Martini has not just been a central part of Portland culture since 1994. Lauderdale, an electric performer who plays the piano with throw-off-your-jacket bravado, has a global presence, selling more than 2.5 million records and touring to huge crowds worldwide (in 2023, Pink Martini will be seen everywhere from Alaska to Belgium).
In Portland, the band regularly performs at fundraisers, and Lauderdale, though a somewhat controversial presence in civic affairs, is a tireless booster of Portland. He lives in a three-story house downtown and serves on several boards, staying as well connected to Old Portland as any cultural figure in the state.
Biggest Influence: “I learned a lot from a woman named Kathleen Saadat, who lives here in Portland. She was Gov. Neil Goldschmidt’s affirmative action director, and I worked under her in 1991.”
Greatest Personal Achievement: Helping civil rights leader Myrlie Evers-Williams make her Carnegie Hall debut playing the piano and singing at age 79.
Favorite Guilty Pleasure: “Do I have to answer that question?”
Best Quote About Him: “Thomas is an extremely generous person who creates opportunity for people who might not have gotten the chance to be seen in some spaces.” —Jimmie Herrod, Pink Martini singer