USA. Jazz Foundation assists 1100 Katrina displaced musicians; replaces Fats Domino's piano Print E-mail
Monday, 28 August 2006
Katrina news:


One year after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, The Jazz Foundation of American has helped save 1,100 displaced musicians in nearly 20 states to find homes, jobs and the instruments to keep their music alive. What follows are the stories of the musicians and the important work the Foundation is doing to save New Orleans one musician at a time. For example, it was The Jazz Foundation that gave Fats Domino a new piano after the Flood. This year will be another hard one for victims of Katrina. Organizations like the Jazz Foundation need ongoing support to keep the Soul of New Orleans alive and well till things come back.

Remember Glenn Hall, the 10-year-old trumpet player/Katrina survivor from New Orleans who came to New York to be the Grand Marshall of last year's Halloween Parade and won our hearts? He appeared on every major television news station from CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, WOR, FOX and every major newspaper. The Jazz Foundation of America made it possible, they also gave him a trumpet after he'd lost his in the Flood, and arranged for housing, food and clothing for his family.

"The Jazz Foundation has been a lifesaver to so many musicians from New Orleans, giving them the opportunity to work and earn money with dignity. They've done more to help the New Orleans musicians then any other group that I know of." - Dr. Michael White, noted New Orleans bandleader/historian

"It's hard for people to imagine what it's like to go through something like this, and to then start over with nothing. The Jazz Foundation was there for us every time ... they made it all possible. I don't know what we would have done without their help. The light is coming back after so much darkness, darkness I thought would never end, and now everything's going to be all right. I am overwhelmed ... and so very, very grateful." - Rodney Rollins, musician, New Orleans resident and Hurricane Katrina survivor - played with Irma Thomas

Over the last year, the Jazz Foundation of America has assisted more than 1,100 New Orleans musician emergency cases, doubling its normal case load with a small staff working 18-20 hour days. That's why celebrities like Danny Glover, joined the Board of Directors, and Dick Parsons joined the Board of Advisors, and Bill Cosby, Elvis Costello, Whoopi Goldberg, Quincy Jones, Bonnie Raitt and Chevy Chase have been supporters of the Jazz Foundation of America.

New Orleans musicians have voted The Jazz Foundation of America the most wonderful, personal, caring organization -

"As rewarding as it has been to be there for these strong people who spent their lives making ours rich with their music, it has been devastating to see the effects of the aftermath on families. More than anything, to see the loss of a world like no other, a place that has been home to over 2000 musicians, where music filled the streets 24 hours a day, where it was commonplace to see 12 year olds walking home from school, practicing the trumpet. If low income housing is not created for artists and for the poor, the very garden that grew this world of music will be at risk of extinction and New Orleans will become a cardboard city without a soul," says Wendy Oxenhorn, Executive Director of the Jazz Foundation of America. "We must find a way to bring the people back home and stop this unconscionable devastation of American families and lives."

Highlights of Jazz Foundation Programs

With the help of E*TRADE FINANCIAL, the Foundation established New Orleans' very first post-Katrina Emergency Housing Fund for musicians -- housing, relocating and saving hundreds of New Orleans musicians and their families from eviction, homelessness and mortgage foreclosure.

From the first week after the hurricane and Flood, E*TRADE FINANCIAL made a commitment that has helped the Foundation save displaced musicians in nearly 20 states. E*TRADE FINANCIAL has pledged to continue support this year, so the Foundation can continue to keep the roof over the heads of the musicians who made America's only original art form.

"The work of The Jazz Foundation is helping very real people address very critical needs -- needs like housing and employment -- everyday necessities that many of us take for granted," said Jarrett Lilien, president of The Jazz Foundation's Board of Directors and president and Chief Operating Officer of E*TRADE FINANCIAL. "We are helping to preserve the musical heart and soul of New Orleans by giving musicians the means and opportunity to pursue their passion for music, a passion which benefits us all by enriching our lives."

Through the contributions of Dr. Agnes Varis, for The Jazz Foundation created the first employment program, which has grown into an $800,000 achievement. The program has created 3,100 individual employment opportunities and has employed several hundred displaced musicians, with a minimum of $200 per gig, while bringing free performances to thousands of children in schools and the elderly in nursing homes in over eight states where the musicians have been forced to settle. This program was also made possible with the help from Dick Parsons & TIME WARNER Inc.

"The physical destruction and psychological vacuum that remains has surpassed my wildest imagination. Through the darkness of this disaster the generosity of the Jazz Foundation of America, and especially the Agnes Varis/Jazz Foundation in Schools Program has helped begin to save one of New Orleans most cherished natural resources, its music." - Jay Griggs, New Orleans musician

The Foundation secured over $250,000 worth of brand new top-shelf donated instruments. The Jazz Foundation gave instruments to the elderly members of the famous and beloved Treme Brass Band and many of New Orleans most beloved senior and junior jazz and blues artists, including Rebirth Brass band, The Hot 8, Davell Crawford, Shannon Powell, Dr. Michael White, Henry Butler, Lionel Ferbos (age 95!) Cyril Neville, Derwin Perkins, with the help of:

Music & Arts Centers donated over $150,000 of top shelf brass.

Yamaha donated nearly $50,000 of their cost to getting high-end drum kits to over 30 of New Orleans greatest drummers. New York's Beethoven pianos gave nearly $50,000 of pianos.

One family's story of help and hope

After being displaced by Katrina, the Rollins family of New Orleans, like many Katrina survivors ended up in a city far from home. There had been frightening moments -- like having to search for their oldest son who had first stayed behind because he wouldn't leave without his puppy. They found their son, but the police would not allow the one year old puppy, Zina, to evacuate. They had to leave her in the house with many bags of dog food. Three months later, when they were all allowed to return, the dog was still alive! The ASPCA would not let him take the large dog out of state until they had a house.

So much fell apart after Katrina, but at least the family, including mom, dad, four children and two small grandchildren, was still together. Rodney and Ella relocated to Atlanta, it was difficult, taking the only affordable housing meant living in a rough part of town. Ella, with four children, secured a full-time job at a local store making $233 a week before taxes.

Rodney, who had earned his living every night of the week as a musician in New Orleans, was now employed by the same department store as his wife, he was working the night shift, she was working days.

Wendy Oxenhom remembers the day he called in a panic. His 18 year-old son, Davon, was in the hospital after trying to save his three brothers and sister from a stove fire in the apartment. He was so worried that they might lose there new home, after all they lost in the Flood, that he tried to take the fire out of the house and burned himself severely. This young hero had no health insurance and the Rollins' needed help.

Davon said, "The Jazz Foundation called the hospital social worker and got me Medicaid insurance. Then she told me that with all these bandages, I would need some cool clothes and they gave me $500 to the best store in town and I even got to rent a tuxedo for my Prom. She even got me some gloves to cover my hands, I felt so great, I went to my prom and I never thought I would. They made me feel comfortable with my scars. Wendy emailed me and called always checking on me, like a friend would do."

The Jazz Foundation moved the family into a wonderful house, with a backyard, thanks to E*TRADE FINANCIAL, where they would even be able to be reunited with Zina the puppy.

Currently The Jazz Foundation is trying to help Davon get into college, all his high school transcripts were lost in the Flood, but it is a struggle. The Foundation moved the family back to Louisiana. Rodney will be employed in the Jazz in the Schools Program.

"We're going back to New Orleans," said Rodney. "Thanks to the Foundation, I will be playing music again, like I am supposed to do on this Earth. I'm getting back my purpose in the world. I'm getting the music back, and that's what will keep my soul alive."

Additional quotes from New Orleans musicians & beneficiaries:

They came to my rescue!!! The JAZZ FOUNDATION of AMERICA is a 'for real'

Benefactor ... Keeping The Music ... and the MUSICIANS ... ALIVE! -Harold Battiste, Jr., famous New Orleans Musician/composer and Cher's former

music director

"The Jazz Foundation is doing an amazing job preserving New Orleans music, its

culture and the musicians themselves, for generations to come.”


Last Updated ( Monday, 28 August 2006 )
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