a tale of one trumpeter's will (part two)

Terence Blanchard's story, in his own words: the following excerpts are drawn from a piece the trumpeter wrote, to appear in the October issue of Jazziz magazine.

(On his new CD:)

The making of my musical requiem, "A Tale of God's Will," brought on its own flood -- of memories in Katrina's wake. Immediately after the hurricane, I think we were all numb. We were trying to make sense of it all. I remember that when we realized we couldn't go home, we felt as if we were trapped in a bad dream. Here we were, Robin and me, at the DoubleTree in Atlanta with our two girls and some family friends, trying to figure what was the next move. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to find my mom. Our friend Leslie said she was going to Colorado to stay with her brother. My nice Neana was going back to D.C. We had a place in L.A., so we figured we should go there. We quickly bought tickets and, leaving our car and truck in Atlanta, flew to L.A. This entire time I'm thinking, What the hell is happening in my home? Where is the help? How come the city is still flooded? Where is my mom? And how the hell did those levees break? I remember feeling helpless and hopeless.

We all rely on our government to give us the basics to take care of our families. We expect our government to protect us from harm. After kissing our asses for votes, we expect them to keep their most essential promises. Not so.

(On the present and future in New Orleans:)

People often ask me about the future of the music, whether this culture will live on. The culture I grew up in will never die. It's in the air, the water, the soil, and the food of New Orleans. Many musicians have returned to rebuild their lives in the city. Some never left. We are all committed doing whatever is needed to help our communities grow and prosper. The one thing we all have learned is not to wait for government to do anything. We have to do it ourselves, the best way we can. If it means cutting the grass in our neighbor's yard, fine. If it means working together to change our schools system ourselves, let's do it.

Now, two years after the floods, I feel that the Bush administration has moved on. When the president failed to mention New Orleans in his "State of the Union" address, I thought, Wow! He's bold enough to announce to this city that he's done with us. I took that as a slap in the face. Some of the people who voted for him died; their families deserve better. In contrast to that bitterness, I'm proud of the work that has taken place in New Orleans. Many people still are not home, but those who have come back have taken big steps toward rebuilding their lives. And they've come together to help each other rebuild homes, schools, and entire neighborhoods. I'm still proud to call New Orleans home.

Many of us look at this as a historic moment in time when we can make a statement about where our hearts lie. We feel the need to make a difference and we're acting on that need. Sometimes these actions concern big issues: Robin and her friend Leslie are working in support of two schools, New Orleans Free Academy and McDonogh 28, making sure that students have safe, clean classrooms and up-to-date books. My neighbor, Rick Mithun, who owns a contracting business, has mobilized residents to work alongside his employees to maintain the neutral grounds that divide the wide streets in our neighborhood: This may seem like a small thing, but it lifts spirits and beautifies, and inspires others to do likewise.

August 8, 2007 5:15 PM |


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