Benefit album featuring Louisiana musicians, “Our New Orleans,” raises $1 million to build decent, affordable housing
AMERICUS, Ga. (Aug. 29, 2006) – Nonesuch Records donates $1 million to Habitat for Humanity International from sales of “Our New Orleans,” a benefit CD recorded last September with a genre-spanning group of Louisiana musicians. The generous gift will be used to aid those affected by Hurricane Katrina. All of those funds will be go toward providing housing in partnership with musicians and others who lost their homes, via the New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village.
“The devastation from hurricanes Katrina and Rita not only destroyed or damaged nearly 500,000 homes, it threatened culture and traditions, including several musical genres, many of which were born in New Orleans,” said Ken Meinert, senior vice president of Habitat for Humanity International’s Operation Home Delivery hurricane response program. “Thanks to the generosity of Nonesuch records and everyone who participated in this fundraiser, we can help preserve the New Orleans musical legacy, so vital to community pride and spirit, by helping displaced musicians return to the region and, in essence, bring back the music to New Orleans.”
The Musician’s Village concept was developed by the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, working with Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr., honorary chairs of Habitat’s hurricane rebuilding program Operation Home Delivery.
Habitat-built homes in the village will provide musicians and other people of modest means the opportunity to buy decent, affordable housing that will allow them to return to the Crescent City. The centerpiece of the village will be the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, dedicated to celebrating the music and musicians of New Orleans and to the education and development of homeowners and others will who live nearby.
The benefit album is composed entirely of newly recorded songs by artists from New Orleans’ music community—across a wide variety of styles—and documents the depth, richness, and profound musicality of that unique city. Artists went into studios around the country last September for one-day sessions, completing all recording over the span of a month.
“When we pick up a CD booklet, we usually skip over the page that says, ‘Special thanks to…’, but in the case of Our New Orleans, it is, after the listing of the musician’s names, the most important part of this package,” said Nonesuch President Robert Hurwitz “Everyone wanted to help—studios that insisted on contributing free time, caterers, photographers and videographers, instrument rentals, producers, engineers—all donated their time selflessly; our corporate parent, which donated all of the recording costs; our manufacturer, which donated all of the printing and pressing costs; our distributor, which donated all of the distribution costs—every step down the line, people gave, not only their profits, but absorbed all of their costs. It was an incredible outpouring of generosity.”
For this special project, Nonesuch joined forces with others in the artistic community. Nick Spitzer, host of American Routes—a nationally syndicated weekly public radio music show based in New Orleans—produced three tracks and contributed liner notes to the record, as did Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford, also a Crescent City resident. Other producers who made enormous contributions include Mark Bingham, Ry Cooder, Joel and Adam Dorn, Steve Epstein, Joe Henry, Doug Petty, Matt Sakakeeny, and Hal Willner. Nonesuch’s corporate parents—Warner Music Group, and its Warner Bros. Records—donated all of the production costs for Our New Orleans as part of the Group’s larger efforts on behalf of hurricane victims on the Gulf Coast. Many others involved in creating the album also generously donated their time and services.
Volunteers can sign up to help build in a Gulf Coast community and donations for Habitat’s continued effort can be made online at www.habitat.org .
About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in Americus, Ga., in 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org .
About New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity
New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH), an independent affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. NOAHH builds new houses in partnership with sponsors, volunteers, communities, and homeowner families to eliminate poverty housing in the New Orleans area while serving as a catalyst to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Since its inception in 1983, NOAHH has built over 100 new homes for low-income families in need of adequate shelter. In the coming years, NOAHH plans to build 1,500 homes in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines parishes.