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.
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: 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: 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.
When the Saints Go Marching In
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: 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.
Aaron Neville, 'Go to the Mardi Gras'
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.
Web Extra: Hear Thompson Play Bach's Sonata in G Minor, BWV 1001-Adagio
Charlie Miller: Prayer for New Orleans
The jazz legend used his trumpet to send out a mournful, free-form petition for his devastated city.
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!
The Subdudes: 'Make a Better World'
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.
The Sixth Ward All-Star Brass Band Revue featuring Brother Charles Neville: 'Where Y'at? Medley: Jesus on the Main Line/I'm Walking/The Saints'
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.
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