Earlier this spring, I applied to be one of the volunteers in this year’s Gracenotes Rebuilding the Birthplace of Jazz trip to New Orleans to assist through Habitat for Humanity in the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I was delighted and honoured to join this year’s team. I imagined that the week would consist of hard work building on the Habitat site followed by evenings exploring the city and listening to music in a city that was pretty much back on its feet after the devastating storm of August, 2005. The city is exciting and vibrant; it is lauded as one of the most unique cities in the United States and I agree wholeheartedly. Live music pulsed out of every restaurant, bar and café and on every street corner of the French Quarter, Bywater, Marigny, and Treme that I passed.
Well, I’ve been back in Boston for a few days now, and I admit I’ve not yet fully digested the emotions and experiences of volunteering with New Orleans Habitat for Humanity through Berklee’s Gracenotes trip. Having never been to the “Birthplace of Jazz”, I made the journey with few preconceived expectations. The culture, local attractions, cuisine, and condition of the city after the 2005 hurricane and the rebuilding that followed…I was completely in the dark. The only thing I knew with certainty was that I’d hear lots of diverse, amazing music. And I was not disappointed!
Sometimes, musicians set aside the saxophone for the circular saw, the piano for the wood planer, the synth for… okay, I’ll stop. In a few days, 10 Berklee faculty and staff will be heading to New Orleans to build houses in the Habitat for Humanity Musicians’ Village.