Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Katrina Project: A Spirit that Will Not Be Washed Away

Whatever happened to all that talent down in New Orleans? I will never forget the time spent in the Crescent city to unwind and reflect. Cajun country has a way of reminding me of the power of creativity.

The music, the food, the architecture, the ocean- combined to soothe my aching soul in a way unlike any other place. When the levies broke and the water rose flooding years of evolving culture, the mood of the nation sunk with the constant images of countless broken people.

Their tears pierced a part of each of us. Many wanted to do more to aid those who miraculously escaped the venom of Katrina. They could not stay there. After days of abandonment, they finally made the voyage to safe haven. All of us were impacted by the uprooting of Cajun land.

What happened to the voices of these people? The sound of the trumpet and the beat of many drums have been transported to other places. With the uprooting of this unique culture comes the emergence of a new voice. A voice molded in the hub of pain. New songs unfold. New dances leap across the stage to express the bitterness related to being forced to find a new home.

What happened to all talent? Uprooted: The Katrina Project is a collaboration of Gulf Coast musicians, dancers and poets, relocated by Hurricane Katrina, who share their profound stories of enduring after the waters settled down.

The spirit of New Orleans can not be washed away, is the message of the Katrina Project. This work is at the forefront of a relief effort focused on energizing and rebuilding communities. The event takes center stage at The Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC on Friday, September 28 and again on Saturday, September 29. Show time for both days is 8:00 p.m.

In connection with the show, The Carolina Theatre will present community outreach events with the artist from the show on Friday, September 28 at 12:30 p.m. at the Durham Center for Senior Life and 4:30 p.m. at the Durham School of the Arts.

The show and the community events should provide much needed insight into the twinge that comes with witnessing the shifting of a significant culture. The uprooting of New Orleans has impact beyond the placement of people to new communities. It is a city within a nation with a culture of its own. The food of the city is its own. The music and dance have been formed over years of experiences. The language is an inimitable blend of French influence and localized vernacular.

We, those who loved to visit, came because the city offered a break from normalcy. It was our escape away from a community void of a rare identity. Much of what we know and celebrate is borrowed from those who made their way to our cities.

They have joined us in our bland communities. They bring with them that special edge to life. Their uprooting is our gift, for they bring their culture to us. Oh, what a gift to us! With it comes a challenge-never let go of the power of culture. It is what makes each of us special. The assimilation of cultures can mean the death of a unique expression.

The lesson is simple. We must rebuild New Orleans. There are no other cities like it in America. Shame on us if we’re forced to say to our children’s children, there once was a place called New Orleans. Those were the good ole days. Then came a flood and it has never been the same since.

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