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 is the steward of a major grant from the Music Rising Foundation awarded to develop educational resources able to communicate the sustaining organic factors of Gulf South music and culture. The NOCGS also co-sponsors the Trombone Shorty Academy (TSA), a program for teaching musical fundamentals and cultural traditions to young musicians from underserved New Orleans high schools.
Here is a video of TSA’s first cohort of students:
The Academy’s students will be supervised this year by artist-in-residence and jazz legend Donald Harrison, Jr., a prolific tenor saxophonist, bandleader, and renowned musical educator. Born and raised in New Orleans, Harrison is also a third-generation Mardi Gras Indian chief.
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. Karen Celestan is the Senior Program Manager for the Music-Rising Program at Tulane.
Tulane University, New Orleans Gulf South Center, 112 Newcomb Hall New Orleans LA 70118 504-314-2883 email@example.com