When famed music producer Bob Ezrin visited New Orleans 30 days after Hurricane Katrina, he had an epiphany. “Wherever we went that music was playing, there was hope,” said Ezrin. “It was clear that the cure â¦ was to keep the music alive.”
Together with U2's The Edge and other music partners, Ezrin founded Music Rising at Tulane University to preserve the musical cultures of the Gulf South. And on Wednesday (April 23), Ezrin was at Tulane to launch an innovative website aimed to do just that.
Billed as a Musical Cultures Jam, Wednesday's launch featured numerous New Orleans and Gulf South musicians: Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, drummer Shannon Powell, trombonist Lucien Barbarin, blues musicians Little Freddie King and Mem Shannon, jazz singer Germaine Bazzle and rap group Partners-N-Crime.
New Orleans band Cha Wa, whose style mixes Mardi Gras Indian music and the blues, provided a rousing musical opening for the event, accompanied by four young members of the Trombone Shorty Academy.
The Edge promoted the site in a video message: “I truly hope that this is only the beginning of an opportunity to provide future generations of students a chance to appreciate the colorful and dynamic musical history of this very special part of the world.”
Music Rising at Tulane is housed in the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South and includes an interdisciplinary major through the School of Liberal Arts. This $1 million initiative to study the musical heritage of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast was announced by Music Rising in 2010.
“The School of Liberal Arts aims to be a leader in the preservation of the Gulf South and community service,” said dean Carole Haber. “Music Rising at Tulane perfectly illustrates our mission.”
The website is an “incredible resource,” said Gulf South Center director Joel Dinerstein, featuring a curriculum for K-12 to college students, original content, artists' biographies and instructional programs.
Mary Sparacello is a communications specialist in the Office of Development Communications.