Andrew Ward wears many hats: a fedora for his hosting gigs at Freret Market and Haunted History Tours, a bishop’s mitre as the high priest of New Orleans’ Running of the Bulls, and a topi, a subcontinental hat, when he performs with his band the Sufi Second Line. The band will perform songs from its CD, Wahida, at a free event at the Bea Field Alumni House on the Tulane University uptown campus on Thursday (Nov. 7) at 7 p.m.
Sufi Second Line, fronted by Tulane alumnus Andrew Ward, performs traditional New Orleans folk and gospel music in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan. (Photo from Andrew Ward)
Ward has lived in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and India. He studied Urdu and Hindi at Benares Hindu University in India, completed his bachelor’s degree in religion at Mary Washington College, an MEd in international education while teaching in Poland, and a master’s degree in international development from Tulane in 2006.
With his world travels, Ward can speak authoritatively when he says, “New Orleans is the most culturally fertile space in the world. Spit on the ground and a saliva tree will grow.”
He credits Tulane for fostering his intellectual and academic passions, his most recent being the Sufi Second Line, a band he formed with drummer Tom Larson in 2011. Backed by various local musicians, the band performs traditional New Orleans folk and gospel music in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan.
Ward views these songs as international love letters and a way to leave the world a better place than he found it while having a “banging good time” doing it. Ward’s goal is to travel to Pakistan and perform the songs for the people.
“Pakistan,” Ward states, “is waiting for the hand of friendship to be extended; they are ready to receive, and we are happy to give.”
Another hat he plans to wear this May is a mortar board at Tulane University Commencement, after he completes his doctoral work in international economic development.