Tuned Into the CityBill McFarlin, Wynton Marsalis and Dan Carlin

Musician and New Orleans native Wynton Marsalis and some VIFs (very important friends) organized three days of functions to commemorate the spirit of the city and its future. Joining Marsalis as co-chairs were Bill McFarlin, executive director of the International Association of Jazz Educators, and Dan Carlin, chairman emeritus of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammys).

“New Orleans: Rebuilding the Soul of America … One Year Later,” was the event’s name with the “Ambassador of Swing Talent Search,” “Cookin’ with Music,” a concert and other smaller happenings all part of it. The “Ambassador of Swing Talent Search” kicked things off on Aug. 27 with a concert at Harrah’s New Orleans Casino featuring Marsalis and Cassandra Wilson. They also introduced talent search competitors from Louisiana and Mississippi. The next day was “Cookin’ with Music” at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, where chef Emeril Lagasse, Wynton Marsalis and his band entertained more than 2,500 third through eighth grade schoolchildren from 19 schools. It was a combination cooking and music lesson that culminated with Marsalis leading a second line through the audience, much to the delight of the children. Hotard Coaches donated the buses and drivers so students could attend, because many of the schools did not have their own transportation. The final event was a concert on Aug. 29 at the New Orleans Arena featuring Stevie Wonder, Marsalis and other musical luminaries.

The funds raised during the events benefit the Rebuilding the Soul of America Charitable Trust, which issues grants for real-estate development and projects to bring back music and culture to the area.

Tuned Into the CityWynton Marsalis and Cassandra Wilson at the “Ambassador of Swing” event.

Tuned Into the CityWynton Marsalis and his band at the “Ambassador of Swing” event.

Tuned Into the CitySchoolchildren at “Cookin’ with Music”