I am pleased to post this story by Leslie Williams that appeared in yesterday's Times Picayune Newspaper.
Excerpts from the story
"A $5.5 million center that New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity director Jim Pate calls "the beating heart" of the Musicians' Village in the 9th Ward may be completed in January if contractors and donor-supplied "installation teams" adhere to an ambitious construction schedule.
A year ago, the nonprofit group celebrated completion of the first three homes in the post-Katrina village, including residences for singer Fredy Omar and harmonica player and washboard master Jerome Deleno "JD" Hill. Since then, 38 single-family homes and one duplex for the elderly have been constructed in the village, which consists of "core" and "programmatic" areas that are not exclusively for musicians. Construction of 81 single-family homes and four duplexes for the elderly is under way.
Now, Pate said, the stage is set for building the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, named after the city's celebrated jazz pianist and educator.
Designed to nurture and preserve New Orleans' musical heritage, the multipurpose center will provide a performance area, classrooms, practice space and access to computers. Neighborhood groups will be able to conduct meetings there.
Leaders of New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity hope the center will become a hangout where student-mentor relationships develop between young and old musicians.
"I can imagine (jazz drummer) Bob French and (bassist) Peter Badie rocking gently in a couple of chairs and (drummer) Smokey Johnson in his wheelchair sitting on the long porch of the center and watching parents and toddlers across the street in the pocket park," Pate said. "As they tell stories of their work and travels with the greats of jazz and blues -- Ellington, Basie, Monk, King and Jackson -- and of their lives in the clubs of New Orleans and across the world, younger musicians and students sit nearby and listen, dreaming of their own travels."
Read more of the story here