Musicians' Village

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Musicians' Village (New Orleans, Louisiana) is a neighborhood located in the Upper Ninth Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana. Musicians Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis teamed up with Habitat for Humanity International and New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity to create the village for New Orleans musicians who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina.

Per February 2007, the Musicians' Village is "the largest-scale, highest-profile, and biggest-budget rebuilding project to have gotten underway in New Orleans post-Katrina."[1][2]


Habitat for Humanity and New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, working with Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis, announced their plans in December 2005 for a “Musicians’ Village” in New Orleans.[1]

On Friday, January 6, 2006, the governing board for New Orleans public schools approved the sale of 8 acres (32,000 m2) of surplus property in the Upper 9th Ward to the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity. New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity was the only bidder for the advertised property. The board unanimously approved the $676,500 sale.

The core property was a residential area for decades and the former site of Kohn Junior High School, which was razed. The land covers two city blocks bounded by North Roman, Alvar and North Johnson streets. It also includes parts of three other blocks along what once was Bartholomew Street—the stretch between North Johnson and North Derbigny streets. Another Habitat project, in the same area, is the Baptist Crossroads Project.[3] The idea of bringing music back to New Orleans was popular, and by September 2006 the entire area, including the Baptist Crossroads project, was known and referred to as Musicians Village. [4] The Baptist Crossroads Project was thought up in 2004, by David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church of New Orleans, and initially planned to build 40 houses, a $3 million project, funded in part by a $1.5 million matching grant from Baptist Community Ministries. After Hurricane Katrina hit, they partnered up with Habitat for Humanity New Orleans,[5] and the building began on June 6, 2006.[6] Thirty homes were completed between June and August 2006, and Baptist Crossroads hoped to build 100 houses in the same area over the subsequent two years, according to project coordinator Inman Houston.[7]

Before construction had begun, Brian Williams and the NBC Nightly News crew met with Harry Connick, Jr., Branford Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH) Executive Director Jim Pate, and NBC Universal Chairman and CEO Bob Wright, in the Upper Ninth Ward, Jan. 23, 2006. A raised platform, instruments, microphones and amplifiers were put up, and Connick, Marsalis and other musicians warmed up by playing themes to television shows—before giving a live jazz performance.


The keys to the first 3 houses were given out on June 1, 2006. New homeowners Fredy Omar con su Banda and Jerome Deleno "J.D." Hill - with "J.D. and the Jammers" - played for the 300 or more people who had gathered for the dedication ceremony and party.[8][9]

President George W. Bush is greeted by the New Birth Brass Band on August 29, 2006, at the Habitat for Humanity's Musician's Village.

Politicians George W. Bush, Kathleen Blanco, Ray Nagin and Bill Jefferson volunteered at the Musicians' Village on April 27, 2006. Put on tool belts and hoisted triangular roof beam sections up to workers scampering across the wooden skeletons of new houses. Then they went inside the framework, talked with individual volunteers, before Nagin and Bush climbed up and started hammering nails handed up to them by Blanco and Jefferson.[10] Hootie & The Blowfish brought their entire band and crew down to New Orleans for 5 days of building houses, on October 16–20, 2006.[11] Former president Jimmy Carter worked in December 2006.[12] Barack Obama took part in painting a home, held discussions, received a tour of the area and was entertained with music by J.D. Hill.[13] His Holiness Karekin II, Leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church, helped build a home on October 17, 2007,[14] and senator John Edwards helped out on January 30, 2008.[15] Edwards also held a ten-minute speech where he announced his withdrawal from the 2008 United States presidential race.[16]

Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, toured Musicians' Village on October 15, 2006, and was treated to jazz music by new home owner Larry "Steamboat Willie" Stoops on the front porch of a newly built house.


Some of the early houses built at Musicians' Village, in the Upper Ninth Ward
Homes being built as part of the Musician's Village Project on 06/01/2007.

The New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH) built 70 single-family homes, as well as 5 two-family homes for older musicians and a music center in the core area of the Musicians' Village. The houses are designed with two, three, and four bedrooms. Homes are being built a foot above the flood level in the area, 5 feet (1.5 m), 7-inches off the ground. Habitat will use a total of seven different traditional New Orleans facades that will sometimes be flipped left to right.[17]

Ellis Marsalis Center for Music[edit]

A centerpiece of the village is the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, dedicated to celebrating the music and musicians of New Orleans and to the education and development of homeowners and others who live nearby. The center features indoor and outdoor performance spaces as well as practice rooms and classrooms. The center has 51 off-street parking spaces.[18] The center will be managed by the nonprofit foundation New Orleans Habitat Musicians Village Inc.[19] The two=story center contains a 170-seat theater and performance hall with movable seats, including dressing and practice rooms. A courtyard with a retractable roof will be between this center and a smaller community center that will contain meeting rooms, offices, classrooms and a community Internet room.[18] Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis have been "heavily involved in the design process" of the center, according to Jim Pate.[8]

In April 2007, the plans for the building won approval from the City Planning Commission.[18] Engineers began grading the site in May, 2007.[20] The groundbreaking was kicked off on September 13, 2007, with a celebration that included performances from Bob French and the Original Tuxedo Band and Shamarr Allen Combo, with guest artists Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis sitting in.[21] The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music opened at the end of August 2011 in New Orleans’s Upper 9th Ward.[22]

Fundraising events[edit]

  • New Orleans artist Fredrick Guess Studio and Café Amelie - special gallery opening and benefit. Sunday, April 9, 2006[23]
  • German Seaside Jazzmen – a Dixieland band from Norden - benefit concert. March 2006[24]
  • Ellis Marsalis - "Musicians Village" fundraiser in Calgary, March 24, 2006.[25]
  • The Washington DC music community - concert From the Beltway to the Bayou featuring Eric Hilton from the Thievery Corporation, KidGusto, and DC area Dj's and musicians, on March 27, 2006.[26]
  • Funk jam band Electronik Church announced Feb. 27, 2006, a nationwide music tour for the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity’s Musicians’ Village.[27]
  • KFOG - (San Francisco / San Jose) announced a promotion to benefit New Orleans Habitat during Mardi Gras weekend 2006.[28]
  • Gregg Stafford (trumpeter), joins the Heritage Hall Jazz Band and Jewel Brown (former Louis Armstrong vocalist) for a fundraiser February 18, 2006 in San Diego.[29]
  • Chairman of NBC Universal, Bob Wright made a major personal contribution, enough to build an entire house.
  • The Click Five - proceeds from selling limited edition, glossy photos on tour over six months, and proceeds from a pre-Mardi Gras concert sponsored by local radio station B97, on February 27, 2006.[30]
  • The Pajama Game, starring Harry Connick Jr with Kelli O'Hara & Michael McKean - 5 benefit performances. (Proceeds will benefit the Actors' Fund of America, the New Orleans Habitat Musician's Village, and the Roundabout's Education Program and Musical Theatre Fund.) June 13-17th, 2006.
  • Ivan Neville and his group Dumpstaphunk - benefit in Auburn, Alabama, on April 19, 2006.[31]
  • Dave Matthews Band - $1.5 million dollars challenge grant. Contributions will be matched dollar for dollar through the grant, raising the total donation potential to $3 million. April 26, 2006.[32]



In 2010, the founders of the Village were awarded the Honor Award by the National Building Museum for their work in civic innovation and community development.[36]

In 2012, Connick and Marsalis received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

News articles



  1. ^ a b Kamenetz, Anya (May 2006). "Note From New Orleans; Sweet Sounds of Home; Bringing musicians back to New Orleans". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2006-05-05. 
  2. ^
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  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Williams, Leslie (June 2006). "MOVING ON UP; Habitat for Humanity opening 3 houses in Musicians' Village". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2006-06-01. 
  9. ^ "Families receive keys to new homes". New Orleans Habitat - Operation Home Delivery Blog. June 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-02. 
  10. ^ VandeHei, Jim (April 2006). "In New Orleans, Bush Urges Volunteerism". Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-04-28. 
  11. ^ "Hootie & The Blowfish join Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans build". The Celebrity Cafe. October 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-18. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Evans, Katie (October 2007). "Catholicos of Armenia to build with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans". Religion News Service. Archived from the original on 2007-10-21. Retrieved 2007-10-18. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Reckdahl, Katy (July 2006). "They Got It Bad". OffBeat Magazine (July). Retrieved 2006-06-25. 
  18. ^ a b c
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ PRNewswire
  22. ^ "New jazz center opens in New Orleans". August 29, 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  23. ^ "New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity Musicians’ Village Benefit a Huge Success". Fredrick Guess Studio. April 2006. Archived from the original on 2006-01-09. Retrieved 2006-04-09. 
  24. ^ "German Musicians to donate to Musicians Village". New Orleans Habitat - Operation Home Delivery Blog. March 2006. Retrieved 2006-03-30. 
  25. ^ "Ellis Marsalis to host a "Musicians Village" fundraiser in Calgary". New Orleans Habitat - Operation Home Delivery Blog. March 2006. Retrieved 2006-03-23. 
  26. ^ "New Orleans Musicians' Village fundraiser". The Suits. 2006. 
  27. ^ "The New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity National Road Tour". The Electronik Church. February 2006. Retrieved 2006-02-27. 
  28. ^ "KFOG's Spirit of New Orleans Anniversary Tribute". KFOG. February 2006. Archived from the original on 2006-03-07. Retrieved 2006-02-28. 
  29. ^ Astarita, Glenn (January 2006). "Post-Katrina Jazz in New Orleans". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2006-01-08. 
  30. ^ "The Click Five and B97 Offer Aid To New Orleans". The Click Five. March 2006. Archived from the original on 2006-02-13. Retrieved 2006-03-10. 
  31. ^ Harmon, Rick (October 2006). "NAlex City Jazz Festival putting together a top-notch blues lineup". Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved 2006-10-29. [dead link]
  32. ^ "Dave Matthews Band Makes $1.5 Million Challenge Grant to Support New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village". top40-charts. April 2006. Retrieved 2006-04-26. 
  33. ^ "Alex Pangman & Colonel Tom Parker : The Dead Drunk Blues". February 2006. Archived from the original on 2006-03-18. Retrieved 2006-02-28. 
  34. ^ Hasty, Katie (October 2006). "Connick Doubles The Pleasure With New Albums". Retrieved 2006-10-04. 
  35. ^ ""FOR NEW ORLEANS" - Artists Unite to Donate 100% of Benefit CD Profits to "Musicians' Village"". Kensei News & Information Service. December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-04. [dead link]
  36. ^

Coordinates: 29°58′27″N 90°02′00″W / 29.9743°N 90.0333°W / 29.9743; -90.0333