Rachel Breunlin, Masters in Urban Studies, is the co-director of the Neighborhood Story Project and a member of the faculty in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Orleans where she teaches courses in storytelling and public culture. Since 2004, she has edited or co-written 15 NSP books, and published articles in journals such as American Anthropologist, Practicing Anthropology, and African Arts that explore the art and politics of collaborative methodologies. For ten years, she ran a book-making program at John McDonogh Senior High, and has worked extensively with community-based organizations such as social aid and pleasure clubs, Mardi Gras Indians, and grassroots museums. Co-author of Talk That Music Talk: Passing On Brass Band Music in New Orleans, she has recently co-written a teacher’s guide, Music, Culture, and Social Change in New Orleans with the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.
Maria DeLouise earned her B.S. Degree in Elementary Education from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, her Master’s degree in School Administration from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and her Plus 30 from LSU, Baton Rouge where her focus of study was educational technology and library and information science. She began her teaching career in 1977 teaching 8th grade reading in LA. She has taught elementary, middle, and high school students as well as serving as a high school librarian. She spent 10 years teaching in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (North Carolina) where she taught elementary and middle grades; some of which was gifted education. Professor DeLouise has also been an adjunct at LSU, BR for three years where she taught in the College of Education. Maria worked as a Distinguished Educator for the LA Department of Education for five years before serving the students in LA as an elementary, middle, and high school principal.
Brooke Grant, Ph.D., is currently a Professor of Practice in the Tulane Teacher Preparation and Certification Program. Her main focus is on secondary teaching methods and supervising student teachers and resident teachers in the field. Prior to coming to Tulane, she worked in the Educational Leadership Department at the University of Wisconsin – Superior serving as an assistant professor. Brooke’s teaching career began outside of Buffalo, NY where she spent over ten years teaching middle school social studies.
Luther has been active in the New Orleans arts community since 1984. He co-founded the Congo Square Foundation in 1989, which was renamed the Congo Square Preservation Society in 2011. The Society has been instrumental in the resurrection of drumming and cultural activities in Congo Square. In 1993, the Congo Square Foundation was successful in placing Congo Square on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1997 the Foundation led the effort to erect the Congo Square historic marker. In addition, he with a team of drum makers including Douglas Redd carved three Bamboula drums from a one hundred year old cypress tree that are now on display at the new Louisiana State Museum of History in Baton Rouge. The Congo Square Preservation Society sponsors weekly Sunday drum circles in Congo Square that date back to 1988. In 2013, the Congo Square Preservation society launched the Congo Square Living Classroom Fieldtrip which consists of a on-site tour of the Armstrong Park Sculpture Garden followed by the Congo Square Drum & Dance Workshop.
Luther founded two major musical groups, Percussion Incorporated in 1985 and Bamboula 2000 in 1994. He has produced 7 compact discs for these two groups; “Windswept”, “Congo Square”, “Cultural Warrior”, “New Society”, “Live at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival”, We Got It Goin’ One” and “The Wild Bamboulas”. Luther Gray and Bamboula 2000 annually teach approximately 5,000 students in elementary, middle, high schools and universities around the country with The Imagination Tour.
Fred Johnson is the co-founder of Black Men of Labor Social Aid and Pleasure Club. Started in 1994 with musicians Gregg Stafford and Benny Jones, Senior, the club’s mission is to keep traditional brass band music alive on the streets of New Orleans. Inspired by the legacy of jazz musician and historian Danny Barker, and the Big Chief of the Yellow Pocahontas Mardi Gras Indian tribe, Allison “Tootie” Montana, the club is known for their use of African fabrics, intricate beadwork, and commitment to social justice and the legacy of civil rights in New Orleans. Committed to connecting this history to the larger story of music in New Orleans, Fred has been a part of Spike Lee’s When the Levees Failed, Matt Sakakeeny’s Roll With It, and was a partner in Talk That Music Talk. He is the executive director of the Neighborhood Development Foundation in Central City.
Treme Brass Band was founded by Benny Jones, Sr., a snare drummer from the Tremé neighborhood whose father, Chester Jones, was a bass drummer for the Olympia and Onward Brass Bands. The founder of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and cofounder, along with Anthony “Tuba Fat” Lacen, of the Chosen Few Brass Band, Benny returned to his roots with his establishment of the Tremé, and has become an important community institution for passing on the tradition to younger musicians. The Tremé has released two albums, Gimme My Money Back on Arhoolie Records and I Got a Big, Fat Woman on the Sound of New Orleans Records label, and have traveled the world playing festivals. Benny has also paraded with social and pleasure clubs for more than 50 years, and is one of the co-founders of the Black Men of Labor Social Aid and Pleasure Club, where he is responsible for putting the band on the street for their second line parade. Since 2006, the Tremé also participated in the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park’s youth mentorship program, and were partners in Talk That Music Talk.
Jamilah Yejide Peters-Muhammad, is affectionately known in her community as Mama Jamilah. She is a proud Mother of 3 Sons, Grandmother of 6, and a Great Grandmother of 8.
Jamilah is co-founder of the Congo Square Preservation Society and presently serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors. “Preserving the Past to Strengthen the Future” is a mantra that guides this phase of her life and as a community elder believes all she has learned in life is only hers to pass on to the next generation. Legacy is equal to eternal life.
Jamilah is a gifted healer and works in the community to promote the importance of safe health and wellness practices. She is a registered nurse with advance practice in Faith Community Nursing. She sits on several boards on both the local and national levels. Jamilah is also a dancer, percussionist, singer, Mardi Indian Queen, and story-teller. She currently works with the Ashé Cultural Arts Center and the New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation is the capacity of a Health and Wellness/Outreach Consultant.
Doratha Smith Simmons was the secretary of the New Orleans chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality, where she participated in the Freedom Rides to Mississippi as well as many boycotts and sit-ins around New Orleans. For many years she worked with traditional jazz musicians at Preservation Hall, and has a life long commitment to how music is connected to the struggles for equality. A producer with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, she continues to speak out about the importance of sustaining the legacy of New Orleans music. Currently working on a book about the history of New Orleans CORE and maintains and important Civil Rights and music archive. In 2014, she was a partner with Talk That Music Talk.
Jerome Smith is the co-founder of the New Orleans chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality, and life-long freedom fighter. A participant in many freedom rides and freedom Summers during the Civil Rights Movement, he returned to New Orleans to co-found an important youth-based social justice organization called Tambourine and Fan, which used cultural institutions such as brass bands, second line parades and Mardi Gras Indians to instill social messages of empowerment for young people. Thousands of youth in New Orleans have come of age in Tambourine and Fan, and have gone on to start many important cultural institutions. After many years of running the Tremé Community Center, Jerome has retired but continues to work as an advocate for young people and racial justice in the city.
Bruce Sunpie Barnes is a musician, photographer, ethnographer, and music educator with over 30 years of experience creating programs that connect communities with their local cultures. In 2006, as a National Park Service Interpretive Ranger at New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, Sunpie created the “Music For All Ages” mentorship program, which brought together professional musicians with K-12 students to teach traditional New Orleans brass band and jazz music. In 2012, he began working on an in-depth collaborative ethnography of musical mentorship and the Civil Rights Movement, which led to the publication of Talk That Music Talk, Passing All Brass Band Music The Traditional Way (The Center for the Book at the University of New Orleans). His writings and photography have been also been published in Smithsonian Folkways, Green Horizons, African Arts, The Washington Post, and South Writ Large.
As park ranger, Sunpie received the 2014 “Keeper of the Light” award for interpretive excellence. He has produced six CDs of original music with his group Sunpie Louisiana Sunspots that focus Afro-Louisiana Créole, as well as six CDs with the National Park Service. In 2014/2015 Sunpie joined the “Paul Simon and Sting Together” musical group, which embarked on 60-city world tour to 37 countries. Sunpie is the Big Chief of the North Side Skull and Bone, one of the oldest Afro- Créole/African American carnival traditions New Orleans. For past 14 years, he has been a member of the Black Men Of Labor Social Aid and Pleasure Club.
Sonya Robinson has over 20 years’ experience in the field of arts integrated learning, creating programs for educational, nonprofit, and corporate audiences. Her extensive experience designing and implementing summer institutes for teachers includes facilitating programs for Lincoln Center Institute, Mississippi Arts Commission, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Louisiana ICI, and Fordham University. Sonya empowers educators with practical tools and authentic models of integrating the arts and humanities to build relevant, transferable skills across academic content. She has implemented professional development series, served as a curriculum coach, and designed teaching artist residencies in over 50 schools, colleges and universities, for organizations including National A+ Schools Consortium, Symphony Space, Ballet Hispanico, and KID smART. Sonya currently serves as the Director of Artist Corps New Orleans and as the Director of Educator Engagement for Music Rising at Tulane University.
Rebecca Snedeker is the Clark Executive Director of the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University. Previously, as an independent documentary filmmaker, writer, and program curator, she cultivated a body of work that supports human rights, creative expression, and care for place in her native city, New Orleans. Snedeker co-authored Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (University of California Press, 2013), a book of 22 imaginative maps and essays, with Rebecca Solnit. She has produced several documentaries that take place in the Gulf South, including Preservation Hall (commission, 2000), By Invitation Only (PBS, 2007), Witness: Katrina (National Geographic Channel, 2010), and Land of Opportunity (ARTE, 2010) and contributed to many others, including Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans (PBS, 2007) and A Village Called Versailles (PBS, 2008). Snedeker served on the Steering Committee of New Day Films, a filmmaker-owned educational distribution company and the boards of the New Orleans Film Society and Patois: The New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival. She is the recipient of an Emmy Award and director of projects funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Dr. Denise Frazier is Assistant Director for the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South. An interest in Cuban politics and African Diaspora culture within Latin America led her to New Orleans where she received an MA and PhD in Latin American Studies at Tulane University. She has taught Spanish, Latin American Studies, and African Diaspora-related courses on the university level at Tulane University, Xavier University, and Southern University of New Orleans. Frazier has also taught violin with Make Music NOLA. She has lectured and presented seminars and workshops on diversity, African Diaspora culture, contemporary music and performance all around the country.
Regina Cairns is Executive Secretary of the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South.
Renard Bridgewater is the Workshop Coordinator. He is a native New Orleanian and graduate of both Holy Cross High School and the University of New Orleans. As a tenured veteran in the city’s Hip-Hop community (performing under the moniker Slangston Hughes) and previous participant in Sweet Home New Orleans’ Accessing Artist Revenue Streams course, he has a passion for live music and artist empowerment, and continues to pass on the knowledge he has gained to help empower his peers. This is utilized in his Uniquity (yoo-knik-wi-tee) Music imprint, which provides a performance platform for regional/touring bands and local Hip-Hop, R&B and Spoken Word artists, as well as providing music publishing for local artists and facilitating workshops that cultivate professional development in the music industry. Renard serves as Community Engagement Coordinator for MaCCNO (the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans), joining that team after nearly fourteen years in HR and production with The Times-Picayune.
Bio to come.