AfricaNOLA is an artist-run organization that serves to promote, preserve, perpetuate, encourage and share West African culture in New Orleans. Our mission is realized through the teaching and performance of traditional West African music , American jazz, and New Orleans brass band music. AfricaNOLA believes it is essential that New Orleans’ youth are knowledgeable of the origins of the local music culture and capable of sustaining themselves financially through that knowledge. Using that knowledge as a creative outlet and becoming financially independent using their shared heritage as a source of income will help our youth form a stronger sense of self and a commitment to community preservation.
Since our inception in 2007, more than 5,000 students, most of whom are of color and/or come from low-income communities, have learned more about Louisiana's West African heritage through our many workshops and performances at festivals, community centers, and theaters throughout the metropolitan area . Our Africa Brass after-school Roots of Jazz master class program has enabled students to learn some of our Africa Brass repertoire, to form their own working ensembles, as well as to perform with established New Orleans ensembles including the Delfayo Marsalis, and Irvin Mayfield ensembles. Students who completed the series of master classes, have performed with their own student ensemble as well as with our professional musicians at the annual Celebrate Africa Day Festival, and some have continued to perform with AfricaNOLA's musical ensembles thereafter. Through small grants from community partners, AfricaNOLA's education programs reach students ages 8- to 21-years old. This program broadens our students economic horizons and the skills learned through the classes, and their participation in planning and performing at this Celebrate Africa event empowers them to find a productive career path and positively impacts economic development in the city. AfricaNOLA instills essential life skills, provides professional development, and offers opportunities for financial growth to New Orleans' severely underserved youth. Through the continuation of the Africa Brass Roots of Jazz master classes and the re-establishment of AfricaNOLA's more intensive mentorship and work-skills programs in schools and community centers in fall 2013, AfricaNOLA will help empower New Orleans youth to lead more productive lifestyles, to be able to mentor their peers, and in a small way begin to help address the serious crime problem we face in New Orleans.