THE TMES PICAYUNE/ NOLA.com
August 27, 2011
By Keith Spera
Two days before Thursday’s official unveiling of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, I asked Harry Connick Jr., a driving force behind its creation, if he felt like an expectant father.
“Sort of,” Connick joked. “I guess if I lived in a commune, and it was polygamous, and you didn’t know who the father was.”
His point was, it takes a village to raise a Village. The new,multimillion-dollar arts education center in the Musicians’ Village has many fathers.
Among them were Connick’s close friend, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and the duo’s longtime manager, Ann Marie Wilkins.
She, Connick made clear, handled most of the grunt work — the paperwork, the endless meetings, the logistics, the sweet-talking, the arm-twisting.
“There’s people that are way ahead of me in the credit line for this,” Connick said. “I’ve been a big mouthpiece for it, and tried my best to raise money for it. Ann Marie, they should canonize her. She made this happen. We just do what she says.”
New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, under executive director Jim Pate, developed the Musicians’ Village from an idea Marsalis and Connick hatched while driving to Houston soon after Hurricane Katrina to entertain evacuees.