I have been living in New Orleans for a couple weeks now, and this past weekend saw one of the sickest drummers I had encountered yet. She was the backbone of a brass band called One Love and they were playing at a bar on Frenchman.
I write and A&R for Tom Tom Magazine, so as soon as the show was over, we planned to link up that week.
Yesterday we met up in the CBD and walked around for a while as I learned her story. Boyanna was from Bulgaria originally and immigrated to New Orleans when she was 9. She has been playing drums for 20 years and is a full time gigging musician in New Orleans. She loves it there, she never wants to leave. There are 2 other top female drummers that she admires there, she says.
The highlight of our day was when she took me to see the Musicians Village. The village was a 4 block range of newly built houses that Habitat for Humanity built in the 9th Ward post Katrina. They were adorable, spacious, brightly covered homes that allowed musicians to own a home in an area they might have once lived.
We saw the newly built community center too- with a state of the art auditorium and classrooms for kids to come study music.
We crossed the industrial canal where the levy was to the Lower 9th Ward to see the Make It Right homes too. Brad Pitt, the face of the foundation, raised hundreds of millions of dollars between 2007-2009 to sponsor architects from around the world to come to that area where the worst damage had been done to build creative and sustainable homes.
They were over the top. They were all kinds of shapes. They were tall. They were solar powered. Their windows were tightly sealed and protected. They were colorful. They used recycled materials.
One of them was designed to detach from its base and float away like a boat in case of extreme flooding, my friend Jay taught me.
I was inspired by America’s tenacity to turn a devastating natural disaster into a call to action to push sustainable living forward.