Jazz Fest: Bringing Back the Music

With the French Quarter Festival last week, the priority of rebuilding the city since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina has not stopped residents from the annual enjoyment of experiencing the jazz and heritage of N.O.


 On April 28 through 30 and May 5 through 7, New Orleans will present its 37th Annual Jazz & Heritage Festival and residents and tourists look forward to attending. The event will include live entertainment from local and internationally known music artists as well as craft booths, photography and N.O. cuisines such as crawgators. Sponsored by Shell, “Jazz Fest” brings a higher cultural awareness, combined with the passion of gospel and the joy of what N.O. calls a “jazz” parade. The event has remained one of the memorable events of the city.


Inspired by songstress Mahalia Jackson and the Eureka Brass band, the event has existed to celebrate the cultural background of Louisiana that the Wall Street Journal says “showcases a wider, deeper, lineup of essential American musical styles than any festival in the nation-“ 


This years’ festival lineup will feature artists such as Fats Domino, Rebirth Brass Band, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and rap artist Juvenile, just to name a few. Many people believe that in time of devastation, musical entertainment can help heal broken hearts and draw new tourists.


“I don’t know much about Jazz Fest besides that it is unique to New Orleans. If I hear of some R&B performers, I will definitely try to check it out” says Bianca Buchanan, junior Mass Communication major from Jackson, Mississippi.


When it comes to Jazz Fest, many persons can agree that the Fair Grounds is full with booths of people selling goodies and crafts. However, with the devastation of Katrina, one local artist known for painting portraits for music artists-celebrities such as India Arie and Juvenile says no to Jazz Fest.


“Money needs to go to those in need- There are other priorities that the city needs to focus on”, said Frank Lewis III.


Although Katrina has caused many of the city’s residents to find new employment, this year’s Jazz Fest sponsors are looking for employees as well.


“L&R Security is looking for people to work for Jazz Fest. Right now I am recruiting workers to work the event,” says Amanda Winfield, Accounting-Finance major from New Orleans.

Winfield says the job duties range from checking bags at the entrance gate during the festival to helping stage managers carry props.


New Orleans is a place where businessmen and women are dedicated to serving its residents with southern hospitality.


“I am a former law enforcement officer, but after Katrina my husband and I decided to add to the cultural diversity of the city, so we open a coffee shop”, said Yolanda Holmes of Urban Cup Cafe located on Magazine Street.


The Urban Cup Cafe specializes in a mixture of soul food as well as ethnic dishes such as Spanish rice and Jerk chicken. On Friday nights, visitors can enjoy a jazz band.


The Jazz & Heritage Festival has not only grown as a multicultural event, but has also inspired the lives of those New Orleanians who participate in it.


“I have been performing in Jazz Fest since I was in high school. Due to Katrina, I will not be performing this year, but will be in attendance on this Sunday”, says Rae’Onne Neville, graduating senior majoring in Mass Communication.


Whether the weather is rainy or uncomfortably hot, New Orleans Jazz Festival is said to take place. Attire of those attending should include light weight cotton clothing, sunglasses, hat with wide brim and thong slippers or flat sandals. For further information regarding Jazz Fest, log on to www.nojazzfest.com .