Harry Connick, Jr. News

Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, a Dream Come True

Publication: The Washington Informer
Date: September 8, 2011

On August 25, as the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approached, one of the most positive responses to the catastrophe that devastated New Orleans was unveiled – The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music. Located at 1901 Bartholomew Street in the heart of the Musicians’ Village in the Upper Ninth Ward, and named for one of the city’s most influential pianists, educators and living legends, the Center will serve as a state of the art facility for the preservation and ongoing development of New Orleans music and culture.

Like Musicians’ Village, the innovative New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity project that has provided 72 single-family homes and 10 elder-friendly duplex units for the city’s displaced musicians, the Ellis Marsalis Center was the brainchild of one of Ellis’s sons, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and one of his most celebrated pupils, singer/pianist/actor Harry Connick, Jr. “Jazz is a tremendous part of the city’s tradition,” Connick explains, “and after the storm we had to do more than just hope that the tradition would continue.” Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 8th, 2011 — 01:27pm

Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, a dream come true

Publication: Louisiana Weekly
Author: Geraldine Wyckoff
Date: August 29, 2011

Big Chief Little Charles Taylor of the White Cloud Hunters Indian gang and Joe Jenkins, who played percussion alongside Big Chief Donald Harrison Sr., quietly sat on the front porch of Jenkins’ house in the Musicians’ Village. The two Mardi Gras Indian veterans watched as a flock of media armed with notepads and cameras scurried around the newly completed Ellis Marsalis Center for Music just across the street. Inside, internationally renowned jazz superstars saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist/singer Harry Connick Jr. were holding court, talking about the Center that their mutual visions, determination and much work helped create.

That it is altogether possible that one day the two Musicians’ Village residents could share their sewing, singing, and tambourine skills with young people in a multi-million dollar facility almost seems incongruous. Equally unlikely is that this Center, complete with a state-of-the-art, acoustically superior performance and recording hall, sits in the Upper Ninth Ward. Not that long ago, the coming together of such disparate entities would have been deemed, well, at least improbable. Read more »

Submitted by Courtney on September 1st, 2011 — 02:12pm

Ellis Marsalis Music Center crowns Musicians' Village

By Bill Capo
Eyewitness News
August 25, 2011

NEW ORLEANS — There was a standing room only crowd, with actress Renee Zellweger in the audience, for the dedication of the new Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, the centerpiece of Habitat for Humanity’s Musicians Village project in the Ninth Ward.

Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis played key roles in developing the Musicians Village, and the center, but as performers, they called this hall acoustically perfect.

“You’re in the middle of the Upper 9th Ward,” said Connick.  “You’ve got the highest level of state-of-the-art technical facility here. it is like all these worlds coming together.”

“You could bring a string quartet in here, and they could play without one shred of amplification, and everybody in here could hear every note in here regardless of the volume,” raved Marsalis.

“You could also bring Dr. John in here with his full band, and people would love every minute of it.”
Read more »

Ellis Marsalis Music Center crowns Muscians' Village

Publication: WWLTV.com
Reporting By: Bill Capo
Date: August 25, 2011

Please visit WWLTV’s website for video footage covering the opening of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music!

NEW ORLEANS — There was a standing room only crowd, with actress Renee Zellweger in the audience, for the dedication of the new Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, the centerpiece of Habitat for Humanity’s Musicians Village project in the Ninth Ward.

Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis played key roles in developing the Musicians Village, and the center, but as performers, they called this hall acoustically perfect. Read more »

Ellis Marsalis Center for Music has Many 'Fathers'

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.