New Orleans, a city born of a rich musical heritage, has always been at the forefront of the most distinct and influential sounds in American history. As twilight hues blend with the lively, flickering oil lamps of New Orleans, one would be hard-pressed to not find live music to experience and enjoy. From the soul-stirring rhythms of traditional jazz quartets to raucous marching bands and brass bands thundering through the French Quarter, music is the city’s lifeblood. Roots of Music, a local nonprofit, is a vital part of this musical culture.
In anticipation of The Roots of Music’s annual fall fundraiser parade on November 28th, I reached out to Roots of Music’s communications manager, Natalie Holderbaum. Conversations with Natalie painted a vivid picture of an event that’s not merely a parade, but a dynamic celebration of community, education, and the enduring spirit of New Orleans.
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to work with the Roots of Music marching band in a physical capacity. I got to witness firsthand the amazing opportunity that this organization provides its students and the New Orleans community. The Roots of Music, born in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, has long been a beacon of resilience and hope. Natalie pointed out that Root’s of Music’s executive director, Derrick Tabb, “made it a personal mission to start up a music program for kids that is accessible and that eliminates various factors to participation”.
Roots of Music aims to foster a safe and reliable space for children to be productive members of society and contribute to an outstanding musical culture. It achieves this goal by having three areas of programming for the students. The Sprouts program teaches basic music theory, singing, and movement. There is also a studio program where students have the opportunity to work in a real studio and learn everything about music production. Lastly, Roots of Music has its marching band, the Marching Crusaders which performs at various events and Mardi Gras parades in the city.
Its journey, however, as recounted by Natalie, has had its fair share of highs and lows—surmounting funding challenges, adapting to the digital demands of pandemic-stricken times, and consistently providing a reliable space for the city’s youth to learn, play, and grow. The parade, set for November 28th, symbolizes the triumph of this mission, inviting the community to come together in support of a cause that supports both education and cultural preservation.
For a ticket price of $25, which includes a meal at Lil Dizzy’s Cafe, attendees will be part of a New Orleans parade tradition that’s as rich as the city’s history. Starting at 1020 N. Prieur St, the parade will weave through the streets, where spectators will have an opportunity to donate via QR codes. This parade will be led by the very students whose talents have been nurtured by The Roots of Music. The evening will culminate in a block party at Lil Dizzy’s Cafe, where a cash bar will be set up and donors will have the chance to win fabulous raffle prizes.
The “Support Your Roots Parade” is more than just an annual fundraiser; it is the pulsing heart of The Roots of Music’s year. Natalie expressed just how crucial the funds raised during this event are to sustaining the program throughout the year. They are not merely collecting donations; they are gathering the resources needed to foster the next generation of musicians and leaders in a city that has given so much to the world of music.
As Natalie shared the future aspirations of The Roots of Music, it was clear that this event is also a stepping stone towards larger goals. They envision a future where their reach is not limited by zip codes or socio-economic status—a future where every child with a love for music has the opportunity to explore, learn, and excel. The parade is an embodiment of this vision, a chance for the community to assert that the rhythmic soul of New Orleans will continue to thrive through its children.
This parade, with its joyful music and delicious food, is a microcosm of what The Roots of Music aims to achieve—bringing people together in a harmonious celebration of New Orleans’ culture. Each note played by the students, each step taken in the parade, is a step towards a brighter, more melodious future.
Come November 28th, as the “Support Your Roots Parade” unfolds, it won’t just be the streets of New Orleans that are alive with music and festivity—it will be the hearts of all those who participate, contribute, and believe in the mission of The Roots of Music. This Giving Tuesday, let’s ensure that the music, the heart of New Orleans, plays on.