NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - With live music performances completely shut down during the pandemic musicians face an enormous financial struggle. A new initiative focuses on making sure the New Orleans musical culture doesn't become another Covid-19 victim.
The world renown musical Marsalis family lost their patriarch Ellis to Covid-19 earlier in the pandemic. His son Delfaeyo Marsalis found inspiration shortly after. He said, “I was driving past Peaches records and they have always been great supporters of the Arts and New Orleans artists and they had a chalkboard up reading thank you Elllis Marsalis for keeping New Orleans music alive.
As the shutdowns; especially of events the usually employ musicians, drag on Dalfaeyo wants to make sure the artists that help continue his father’s and other New Orleans musical traditions survive financially. He said, “We’re hoping to provide that kind of assistance so that folks don’t have to worry. ‘OK. Can I keep my lights on? Am I going to be able to feed my family this week? And of course it’s an ongoing process so we hope that we will be able to provide a little bit of relief.”
That sign inspired the name for a new foundation he is kicking off this week to support New Orleans musicians: Keep NOLA Music Alive or KNOMA. Marsalis said, “New Orleans musicians have often had a tough time even when we are not facing a pandemic.”
His hope is to build a system that gives artists some stability. Marsalis said, “We don’t have the infrastructure that supports artists. There are some cities, I believe Vienna, Austria for example, has an infrastructure for artists where they receive certain types of funding which allows them to create and maintain.”
The website www.knoma.org is not only a donation portal, but a digital space Marsalis wants to use to bring artists together and teach about New Orleans musical traditions. He said, “Credit to the spirit of humanity that we are going to get past this and it’s part of the job of New Orleans musicians and the New Orleans artists to lift people up. That’s what New Orleans music. That’s what New Orleans does.”
Marsalis said even in the worst of times the city pushed through and can do it again. “That’s our hope that the future generations are going to keep the music and keep the great spirit of the city alive,” said Marsalis. A little support will go a long way.