By Desmond Loyal Goodwin
Data News Weekly Contributor
In a city full of music, culture, and talent, visitors and residents alike can always find something new in a cultural hub that never sleeps. Every Wednesday night at 10 p.m., artists ranging from poets, comedians, singers, rappers, and more come together to show off their skills and talents at the Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. And for the first time since the performing venue opened, artists got to perform on the Dee Dee Bridgewater Stage inside the venue on March 13th. The stage was dedicated and named after Bridgewater, a Tony-award and three-time Grammy-award winner, for her achievements and commitment to local culture.
From New Orleans-own Tank and The Bangas, to the cast of The Color Purple Live, artists from all around the world have touched the mic on the Jazz Market Stage to share their gifts. Performing on the stage expands the types of acts the venue will put on each week.
“When [the venue] first started, it began with the CoolNasty Band back in 2016,” said DC Paul, who hosts the Wednesday Night Jam at the Jazz Market. “The first host was Elliot Love, but when they relocated from the Verret’s Bar and Lounge to the New Orleans Jazz Market, I immediately offered my services,” Paul said of his desire to be a part of the mission of the Jazz Market. “By the third show I was hosting, and it’s been a hit ever since,” he said.
Even with a new location, patrons said the energy was electric at the special event. A new band that started earlier this year through the Jazz Market called Blaq Rhapsody entertained the public with soulful musical vibes. When it comes to performing or playing, the band said they welcome different kinds of artists to join them, with the key being that they must be able to play well.
“There are so many talented artists who don’t always have an opportunity to showcase their talents such as singing, rapping, or even playing their instrument in front of a live audience,” Paul said. “I believe it’s a great experience for them to be able to perform and enjoy the culture of New Orleans because that’s what the city is all about,” he said.
When it comes to this type of public “jam session,” performers can sign up on the venue’s list if slots are opened, but for Wednesday’s special occasion, the band oversaw choosing who would touch the stage. From 102.9 WHIV’s Radio Host Gina Brown, to the King of Bounce music, Hasizzle, guests described the event’s energy was “through the roof.”
Not only can residents come out, and hear live entertainment for free, but also sample local cuisine and shop designs and merchandise from local vendors and artisans. Several Black-owned businesses, like Santanesse’s Soul Secrets, set their signature dishes and self-made merchandise to distribute to the community. With over 10 local vendors present at the event, organizers said that the market supports networking and marketing for local entrepreneurs.
“Events like this are always important to today’s society,” said Kelsie Frazier, a local resident. “I believe sometimes we get so caught up in what’s new or selling, instead of keeping the roots of music alive. The New Orleans Jazz Market will always be my home away from home,” Frazier said.