The New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University (NOCGS) explores the region's intersections with Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean through research, community engagement and a new curriculum. Often ignored in larger US histories, New Orleans and the larger Gulf South figure uniquely within colonial, regional, national, and global narratives. The Center is home to a brand-new major, the Musical Cultures of the Gulf South, and we are building a field of study focused on the region’s music and culture.
The NOCGS has launched an innovative, multi-platform website on the region's musical cultures to provide historical context for the region's music and support the new major. There are eighteen courses mapped onto the Music-Rising-@-Tulane website and each features a syllabus, readings, videos, photographs, and oral histories to introduce any site visitor to the cultural riches of the region. This site documents, preserves, and communicates the sustaining organic factors of Gulf South music and culture http://musicrising.tulane.edu/
The NOCGS also co-sponsors the Trombone Shorty Academy (TSA), a program for teaching musical fundamentals and cultural traditions to young musicians from under-served New Orleans high schools, and the Fredman Business Academy, which trains local high school students in areas of the music business such as production and sound engineering.
Here is a video of TSA’s first cohort of students:
The Academy's students will be supervised this year by two members of the world-famous Soul Rebels brass band: Edward Lee, Jr., the band's tuba and sousaphone player, and saxophonist Erion Williams. Lee and Williams are both born-and-raised in New Orleans and they carry on the brass band tradition crucial to the origins of jazz and germane to all contemporary New Orleans music.
In the Gulf South, dozens of African ethnic groups created a pan-African American culture that remains the most influential musical culture of the past century. In terms of American musical genres, jazz, blues, zydeco, Cajun, swamp pop and bounce all have their origins here; Gulf Coast musicians have made seminal contributions to ragtime, rhythm-and-blues, rock-and- roll, funk, and hiphop; country and gospel have always flourished here. Brass band music has been central to a New Orleans way of musical communication for over a century, when uplifted horns began to sound out a new freedom,New Orleans remains a cosmopolitan urban culture founded in the tripartite colonial mix of European, African, and Native American peoples, stirred by the migrations of Cajuns and Haitians in the early eighteenth century and transformed into a crucial national port by a familiar nineteenth-century ethnic mix of Italians, Jews, Irish, and Polish-Americans. More recently, immigrants from Vietnam and Latin America have become integral to the region's ethnic admixture.
The Gulf South Center awards two fellowships to help strengthen an emerging body of scholarship. Monroe Fellowships provide Tulane faculty with resources to enhance their current research projects. Global South fellowships are open to all scholars with projects focused on the cultural intersections of the Gulf South with the Caribbean, the Francophone world, and the African diaspora.
Joel Dinerstein is the Director of the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South and the James N. Clark Chair in American Civilization.
Tulane University, New Orleans Gulf South Center, 112 Newcomb Hall New Orleans LA 70118 504-314-2883 firstname.lastname@example.org