Crescent City Musicians: Singing It Like It Is

In the year since Katrina struck, the musicians of New Orleans have struck back with their art, celebrating the city's life before the storm and bemoaning its fate. Throughout the year, NPR has featured their music on the air and on our web site. To mark the anniversary of the storm, we have chosen ten songs that convey their spirit, their spunk and their commitment to Crescent City.

Dr. John

Dr. John: Clean Water

The lyrics are a little hokey, with a call to "clean all the waters in the world," but the Doctor's gritty voice and striding piano turn the tune into a no-nonsense anthem for his beloved city.

Irma Thomas

Irma Thomas: Backwater Blues

Bessie Smith wrote and recorded this song in 1927, but when Thomas bites into it, she is clearly talking about Katrina. Thomas, who lost her home and nightclub, sings the blues with strength and hope.

Eddie Bo

Eddie Bo: When the Saints Go Marching In

Eddie Bo calls himself an "international piano giant," and who are we to argue? A performer for over 50 years, he brings a firm and funky touch to the ivories.

Allen Toussaint

Allen Touissant: Yes We Can

It was a 1973 hit for the Pointer Sisters. Now the song's composer has recorded a version that's tasty as a beignet: Touissant's soothing voice and savory piano, the soul-drenched back-up singers, the hypnotic chant: "Yes we can can."

Aaron Neville

Aaron Neville: Go to the Mardi Gras

The man with the bulging biceps, tattoos and quavering falsetto — part of a family of city favorites — led his honkin' band to conjure up the carefree Mardi Gras mood at the Higher Ground benefit concert last fall.

Samuel Thompson

Samuel Thompson: Adagio from Bach's Sonata in G Minor

Thompson, a South Carolina-born musician, was visiting friends when the floodwaters rose. He brought his violin when he fled to the Superdome, where he played Bach to bring calm to the chaos.

Charlie Miller

Charlie Miller: Prayer for New Orleans

The jazz legend used his trumpet to send out a mournful, free-form petition for his devastated city.

John Magnie of the Subdudes

The Subdudes: Make a Better World

Proof that Hurricane Katrina can't keep a good band down — this ageless quintet sounds as if they're having a ball. Accordian fans: This one is for you!

Sixth Ward All-Star Brass Band Revue

Sixth Ward All-Star Brass Band Revue featuring Charles Neville: Where Y'At Medley: Jesus on the Main Line/I'm Walking/The Saints

The percolating horns and unstoppable drums will cause you to come down with a case of the happy feet.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band: What's Going On:

This band turned to Marvin Gaye's pioneering 1971 album to capture the resignation and resilience of their hometown. As the band leader says, "What's going on?" is still the question of the minute.

Listen: 'What's Going On'

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Sippiana Hericane

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  • Album: Sippiana Hericane
  • Artist: Dr. John
  • Label: Blue Note Records
  • Released: 2006
 

Sing Me Back Home

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  • Album: Sing Me Back Home
  • Artist: The New Orleans Social Club
  • Label: Burgundy Records
  • Released: 2006
 

Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album for the Gulf Coast

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  • Album: Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album for the Gulf Coast
  • Artist: Various Artists
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • Released: 2006
 

Higher Ground Hurricane Benefit Relief Concert

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  • Album: Higher Ground Hurricane Benefit Relief Concert
  • Artist: Various Artists
  • Label: Blue Note Records
  • Released: 2006
 

What's Going On

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  • Album: What's Going On
  • Artist: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
  • Label: Shout! Factory
  • Released: 2006
 

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