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Author: General Release
Date: August 26, 2010
NEW ORLEANS — Musicians’ Village in the Upper 9th Ward was conceived post-Hurricane Katrina to give several generations of musicians and other families a community in which to live and prosper.
On Thursday, nearing the five-year mark since the storm, the milestone was celebrated in an area of the city that’s coming into its own.
The McDonogh 35 Choir helped mark the big moment, along with Harry Connick jr.
An oversized fleur de lis was raised to the top of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, which is halfway finished.
“We’re going to have to come in here and see if we can get these kids to understand, OK, you have to practice,” said jazz legend Ellis Marsalis. “You have to learn how to play your instruments. You have to practice.”
The Center for Music, which will develop future generations of musicians and preserve the city’s rich musical heritage, is the centerpiece of Musicians’ Village. Around the center are nearly 80 homes and a park.
“It’s really unbelievable,” Connick Jr. said. “It’s a surreal feeling, and it’s just a testament not only to the time and selflessness of the volunteers, but to the resilient nature of New Orleanians. Man, they are a tough group of people.”Ashley Branch is one of those people. She lives in Musicians’ Village after moving back with her husband a couple of months ago.
She said it’s beautiful, but she still would like to see the city as a whole further along in its recovery.”What about the schools? What about the streets? What about the crime? What about the job opportunities?” Branch said.
Branch said many people won’t move back home without those things taken care of, and that makes living in New Orleans post-Katrina bittersweet.
“You want to be home. You want that experience. You want to have that sense of community with the people that gave to you,” she said. “You want to be able to give back to the community, but when the community can’t give anything to you, you have nothing to give.”
Connick Jr. and Marsalis came up with the idea for Musicians’ Village. It stands where Kohn Junior High School used to be. The school was torn down in the 1990s.