Marsalis’ Katrina Fundraiser

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Nine-time Grammy Award-winning musician and New Orleans native Wynton Marsalis announced at a recent press conference at Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, home of the Emeril Live show, and later on the show that he will return to New Orleans for a live television special on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. 

 â€œMillions of Americans, and indeed, millions more around the world watched with horror as events unfolded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. A year later on August 29 we are convinced that as people see the stories of those who have reclaimed their lives they will watch with pride and resolve to help get the job finished,â€? said Marsalis of the special. “And in New Orleans style, much as a jazz funeral, we are going to mark the anniversary of the tragedy with a celebration of the resiliency of the human spirit and of the rebirth manifesting itself in our beloved city.â€?

The jazz great announced on Emeril Live his plans for the three-day New Orleans Cultural Tribute (Celebrate Jazz Trio), running from August 27 through the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, to include the television special (network to be announced); the Ambassador of Swing Talent Search at Harrah’s New Orleans’ Theater, featuring performances by Marsalis, jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson and some of the hottest local talent in Louisiana and Mississippi; and Cooking with Music, an event featuring Lagasse and Marsalis to welcome back New Orleans school children.

“This project is a tremendous effort by Wynton who is a great ambassador for the city of New Orleans,� said Emeril Lagasse, a fellow New Orleanian. “I am very pleased to be a part of it, and I particularly look forward to sharing the stage with Wynton on August 28 for Cooking with Music. This educational program will welcome the youth of New Orleans back to their schools after a difficult summer, and it will remind them of how their city is so rich in culture. What better way to instill pride and hope for the future than to showcase how cooking and music, two things that New Orleans is known for, go hand in hand.�

The Emeril Live show, featuring a performance by Marsalis and jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson, will air throughout the summer to herald the upcoming commemorative events. Harrah’s New Orleans’ Big Gift Giveaway will surprise one lucky Emeril Live audience member and seven of his or her friends with a free round trip on Harrah’s private jet, hotel and food experience in New Orleans.

The press conference was hosted by International Association of Jazz Educators executive director Bill McFarlin. McFarlin serves as tribute co-chair along with Dan Carlin, chairman emeritus of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammys), highlighting the fact that the event is a music industry effort to support New Orleans in its efforts to bring back the music.

A veritable Who’s Who of jazz greats will join them as the duo faces off to introduce new talent from their home states of Louisiana and Mississippi. The talent competition, produced by Kevin Swain, will take place at Harrah’s New Orleans’ Theater and launch the “Celebrate Jazzâ€? series, with appearances from A-list talent, record company execs, managers, popular musicians and veteran jazz performers. Wilson will serve as celebrity judge for the series, which is designed to create visibility, bring talent and tourism back to New Orleans. 

The Kazanjian Foundation, the charitable arm of the prominent jewelry company Kazanjian Bros., Inc., will participate in a silent auction and fundraiser benefiting the Rebuild the Soul of America (R.S.O.A.) Charitable Trust, which will issue grants for real estate development and projects to bring back the music and culture to the area, and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Donated fine jewelry will be listed in a silent 30-day online auction at to begin on August 29.

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