In Search of Sound: Black Music & Community Post Hurricane Katrina


Charmisha Baker

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Historically, music has been linked to the survival and viability of Black Americans. From slave spirituals to narrative blues and soul styles, to urban jazz innovation, black music is conceivably central to Black cultural proliferation. Specifically, the music culture permeating the south has enabled a community to be strengthened by its creative tendencies despite hostile racism. If one were to explore the depths of black engagement in music it would discovered, as James Baldwin so eloquently described, the truisms associated with the experience of the black poor remain embedded in the emotionally expressive art form. Because, Blacks in America lack the same platforms to vocalize social concern due to inadequate economic agency, many local working class individuals anchor to sound as a meaningful forum to expound discontent and struggle. Surely, Hurricane Katrina resounded the mass disenfranchisement of Blacks trapped by their socioeconomic status. The film project attempts to ascertain the degree to which music is connected to daily survival amongst Blacks in the 9th Ward. Furthermore, the research will explore the ways in which local musicianship is contributing to the rebuilding and restoration of the 9th Ward; home to New Orleans? poorest Black population.


Caroline Heldman




Support provided by:The Paul K. & Evalyn E. Cook Richter Trusts - International Fellowship

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