Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Author: Barbara LaFitte

Thank You Berklee & Gracenotes

I just want to thank Berklee and the Gracenotes Sponsorship team for giving us the opportunity to work in New Orleans.  I am grateful for  the personal friendships which came out of this trip, and for the real life education of being in the birthplace of jazz.

I truly hope that this initiative lives on; there is nothing like the first-hand experience of connecting with people in places of need.  Even a small instance of “paying it forward” helps our society in the long run.  Thanks Thanks THANKS!!!!

The Kindness of Strangers

Blanche Dubois couldn’t have summed it up any better:  “I have always relied upon the kindness of strangers”.  That’s what I experienced this week, from not knowing my wonderful team members, to: Mo, our taxi driver who drove us to and from the site everyday, and took us through the Lower 9th Ward to see the notorious levee on the Industrial canal, now skirted by empty lots and ruins of foundations; Angelamia Bachemin, creator of the Jazz Hip Hop Orchestra and her sweetie, vocalist GinGin, who took Juliana and me on an extensive tour of their city, and brought us to Tomi, owner of the Juju Bag, who honored us by describing every special memory represented in her Juju Bag Cafe; Ben, our ever patient Habitat leader, teacher, and motivator; our other team members from NY:  Chris , Christina, Michele and Catherine,  there on their own on break from college; Stuart, who skipped out on his convention to come to work with us; Troy, with his brand new kidney, Rhonda, and Trina, locals who work on the weekend in the 9th Ward; Paul Scali our drummer and homeowner, who worked alongside us donning his straw hat; Trish, Barry, and Laverne, the kitchen staff at the French Quarter Chateau LeMoyne on Rue Dauphine: Trish brought her bench-sized cooler in on her day off so our picnic lunches would stay edible in the heat, Laverne who made us the  home cooked breakfasts, Barry who got us coffee and gave me a hug on the last morning when I was so sad to be leaving; and all the unknown and silent partners who help in the huge rebuilding process. 

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Steamy Morning on the Last Day

Wow–I can’t believe we’re near the end–it went by so quickly!  What wonderful, rich experiences we’ve had.  Last nite, Juliana & I had a personal tour of New Orleans with Angelamia Bachemin & her sweetie Ginger, whom I can’t thank enough!  We had homecookin’ at the Jujubag Cafe, which y’all should visit for some lovely live music and fresh fried catfish, and sit in an oasis of a patio garden! Angie showed us the school where she had started a music program for neighborhood kids, but now a big fish has purchased the buildings and she will have to find another place for her passion of teaching kids.  If anyone can do it, Angie can!

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Hard work in the Hot Sun!

This is Barbara LaFitte (oboist and Coordinator in the Performance Division), writing as a storm is rolling in.  Its very very hot, but we are far more acclimated today than yesterday.  We’re working on finishing up a house that belongs to a drummer, painting exterior trim, putting up fascia, digging post holes for the fence and for the porch.  Today we felt like we are truly accomplishing something!  Our team is wonderful–great spirits, great people, and to think in my 15 years at Berklee, I’d never met any of them!  The camaraderie is wonderful, and I feel truly lucky to be here with them.

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