By Sue Strachan, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
The exuberant brass band of students from the Trombone Shorty Academy and Cha Wa, a Mardi Gras Indian, performing with them aren't the usual sights one might see at Tulane University's Wilson Center Atrium, the building that houses the athletic department. Yet, for the April 23 debut of the Music Rising at Tulane website, it provided a both a location and a reminder of why Music Rising was founded.
Music Rising was started by U2's the Edge and music producer Bob Ezrin as an organization that could help restore and preserve New Orleans diverse musical traditions after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It now also does national disaster relief funding. Music Rising at Tulane is a partnership between Music Rising and Tulane University's School of Liberal Arts, and its mission is to study, preserve and promote the musical cultures -- and its ancillary facets, such as dance -- of the Gulf South region, including the states of Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, as well as the Caribbean, Latin America and the African diaspora.
Speakers at the press conference included Michael Bernstein, the school's Provost; Carol Haber, dean of the School of Liberal Arts; Joel Dinerstein, director of New Orleans Center for the Gulf South and of the school's American Studies program; Blake Haney of Canary Collective, the group that designed the site; and Bob Ezrin, who is also the vice chair of the board of Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, which administers Music Rising.
Ezrin's first links to New Orleans were as a boy in Canada, when his uncle, whom he said "was the top collector of jazz music in Canada," would play jazz from New Orleans, which he envisioned as "a musical place, where magical music happened."
The site showcases all genres of music in varying facets (for example, it has digitized all of the oral histories from the university' Hogan Jazz Archives and features oral histories from the NOLA Hiphop Archive), artists' biographies, K-12 learning modules, a state-of-the-art music instructional program, and original content, such videos of musicians (one featured Little Freddie King, who attended the event). Other musicians who were present were Shannon Powell, Lucien Barbarin, Germaine Bazzle, Jeff Klein of Africa Brass, Mem Shannon, Wade Wright, the duo of Partners N Crime, and Trombone Shorty, whose after-school music academy is supported by Music Rising.
After the speeches, the public was encouraged to try out the new site on laptops stationed around the room.
Want to try it out on your own laptop? The site is free to use: http://musicrising.tulane.edu.
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