Five years ago, KYW’s Brad Segall was in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit and provided live reports as most of the city was inundated. He returned to the city last week and found the city’s rich history of arts and culture is playing a big role in the rebuilding effort.

Segall reports that two native sons of New Orleans saw the need for the involvement of musicians from the beginning.

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Months after Katrina decimated the city, Harry Connick Jr. (above) and Branford Marsalis wanted to bring the local musicians back.

But where would they live in the ravaged city? Connick says they partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build “Musician’s Village,” in the Upper Ninth Ward:

“Nobody’s ever had to deal with devastation such as Katrina, so we thought it’s only just a responsibility that we have to do something to try to entice musicians to come back and to keep the tradition going, man, because we owe our livelihoods to this city.”

There are 80 homes.  Most of the residents are musicians like Liese Dettmer, who says living there has enabled them to begin teaching the next generation about the city’s rich musical tradition:

“By working with these kids, the kid crime that we had went to pretty much zero.  So I don’t think we signed on for that but realized that in this little microcosm, this one little speck in the United States, that we can make a difference.”

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(Liese Dettmer's home in "Musician's Village," in the Upper Ninth Ward.)

The centerpiece of the neighborhood is a music center named for Marsalis’ father, Ellis.  Connick sat down at the keyboards and joined a local jazz band for an impromptu concert (top photo) to help celebrate the building’s topping off.

Read Part I of Brad Segall’s series

Read Part II

(Photos by KYW’s Brad Segall)

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