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A place’s soul comes from its people. And nowhere else has the people of New Orleans.
Our appreciation and need for travel has changed over the last few years. We’ve become more siloed. We’ve lost chances to see the world and be inspired by others. We need to break free.
New Orleans has what you need to feel whole again. And we hope you’ll rediscover a part of yourself when you walk through our doors.
This campaign is built around the culture bearers of New Orleans. It tells the story of our place and our creativity through our people. At its core sits a dinner party full of talented chefs, musicians, artists, activists, civil rights icons, and members of vibrant and tight-knit New Orleans communities. We hope you’ll spend some time getting to know them and seeing New Orleans through their eyes.
Soon, we’ll launch a first-of-its-kind VR experience, a sort of first-person POV documentary, that allows you to pull up a chair to this party and explore parts of the city with the people in attendance. It’s called, “Plus One,” and we hope you’ll accept our invitation to join us on Oculus TV.
Leona Tate played a crucial early role in the Civil Rights Movement, becoming one of the first African Americans to attend a formerly white-only school in Louisiana. In 2009, she created the Leona Tate Foundation for Change (LTFC) to continue educating the public, in particular young people, on the lessons of Civil Rights and minorities’ struggle for equality.
On November 14, 1960, six years after separate black and white schools were ruled unconstitutional in Brown vs Board of Education, Leona Tate, Gail Etienne, and Tessie Prevost, only 6 years old, were escorted by Federal Marshals through a crowd of protesters to attend the McDonogh #19 Public School.
The school building, located at 5909 St Claude Ave. in the historic Lower Ninth Ward, now houses the Tate, Etienne, Prevost Interpretive Center, a mixed-use facility dedicated to the history of New Orleans Public School Desegregation, Civil Rights, and restorative justice.
As son of co-founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe, Ben has lived his whole life with the rhythm of the French Quarter pulsing through his veins. Raised in the company of New Orleans’ greatest musicians, Ben returned from his collegiate education at Oberlin College in Ohio to play with the group and assume his father’s duties as Director of Preservation Hall. Today he serves as Creative Director for both Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Hall itself. Post Hurricane Katrina Ben established the Preservation Hall Foundation to protect, preserve, and perpetuate New Orleans traditional music and culture, through education, community engagement, legacy, and archive.
Restaurateur, entrepreneur, author, and sought-after speaker Ti Adelaide Martin is an outspoken champion for true hospitality in business. "I have many passions, but my truest love is for restaurants. I love restaurants. I love working in them, eating in them, talking about them, reading about them, and writing about them," says Martin.
Martin credits her mother Ella Brennan with igniting that passion. A lifelong dream came true when Ti returned the favor by releasing a book with her mother titled Miss Ella of Commanders Palace. On the heels of the book, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Leslie lwerks released the documentary, Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table.
Co-proprietor of Commander's Palace since 1997 with her cousin Lally Brennan, Martin speaks with pride and excitement about the future. "At all of my restaurants, we try to live up to what people expect and want to be even better and to represent what the city is all about -- not just the food but the way of life, the soul, and the spirit that is New Orleans. Most of all we will not stand still; we will always evolve."
Born and raised in the Uptown New Orleans neighborhood, Pigeon Town, Joe Henry is a staple of the city's unique second-line culture. He was one of 20 founders of the Pigeon Town Steppers, a beloved second-line club known for their stunning head-to-toe color-coordinated outfits (complete with Italian handmade alligator shoes) and Easter Sunday parades.
In a wheelchair since the age of 12, Henry is known for his acrobatics during second lines - popping wheelies, spinning, leaning the chair from side to side - dancing to the music and energy that are an essential part of every street parade in New Orleans. He credits his ability to execute most of those moves flawlessly to his extensive wheelchair basketball experience, which he's played since 1994.
Featured in The New Yorker, Village Voice, and the HBO series, Treme for his club's fight (and triumph) against exorbitant parade permit fees following Hurricane Katrina, Joe's club may be famous but they're also down to earth and committed to thrilling everyone who comes out to see them.
A pioneer of arts in New Orleans, Arthur Roger has been an advocate and voice for local artists here since 1978. Recognized as the city's preeminent art dealer, Roger led the formation of the New Orleans Gallery Association (now called the Arts District of New Orleans) and helped create successful citywide exhibition openings such as Art For Art’s Sake which transformed the art scene in New Orleans. A recipient of multiple civic awards including the ADL's A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty, Junior Achievement Role Model, and the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Award, Roger continues to make important contributions that make New Orleans such a special place for artists. You can often find him at his gallery on Julia Street.
A true cultural ambassador for the city of New Orleans, clarinetist Doreen Ketchens has played for four U.S. Presidents, recorded an album almost every year since 1994 and has been called a legend by classicFM.com.
Growing up in the Treme nighborhood, Ketchens, aka Queen Clarinet, was exposed to second lines and jazz funerals on a regular basis. She studied at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) under Ellis Marsalis and drew inspiration and a positive mindset from several mentors and teachers, including Alvin Batiste and Stanley Weinstein, who helped her focus on taking her incredible talent to the next level.
Most weekends, you can often find her in the French Quarter on Royal Street, where she's been thrilling crowds with her virtuosic performances for the past three decades.
A 6th-generation native of New Orleans’s Lower 9th Ward, GRAMMY-nominated multi-instrumentalist and composer Gladney is one of the foremost creatives of his hometown and a leading contemporary exponent of the saxophone.
Having performed and traveled professionally since the age of 12, Gladney is a graduate of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), later earning his BA from the New School for Contemporary Music. While at NOCCA, Gladney was chosen to be a part of the now Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz (then Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz) All-Star group where he traveled to high schools around the country educating through jazz “informances.” During this time, Gladney had the distinct honor and privilege of performing at the White House during the Obama administration.
Gladney currently leads a self-titled band with the 2021 release of "Selenite" marking the band's recording debut. Along with his band, Gladney performs regularly with The Rumble, a Black Masking Indian-led funk band from New Orleans, and Jake Shears of alt-pop band Scissor Sisters.
The 33-year-old dynamo just released her sixth album, Faster. This is her sophomore release for Rounder Records; her debut was 2019's Kill or Be Kind. Faster debuted in the Billboard Blues Charts at #1, it also debuted at - #2 Folk Americana Charts - #10 Rock Albums Charts
Guitar World named her “One of the 30 best guitarists in the world” – she came in at #7 behind Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, and Joe Bonamassa. And Variety Magazine called “Faster” one of the Top Songs of 2021. And The New York Times said, "For the last decade, Fish has been one of the most promising young blues performers working, a punchy singer and a rowdy guitarist. Kill or Be Kind is her first album for the roots-music powerhouse Rounder, and it demonstrates the range of her palette, which takes in Southern R&B, rockabilly, and much more."
While Samantha’s roots are in KC, she now calls New Orleans her home. A force to be reckoned with, Samantha's live performance is an explosive brand of blues/rock-and-roll not to be missed.
Mason Hereford is the chef and owner of Turkey and the Wolf, a counter service-only joint that Food & Wine and GQ both listed as one of the most important restaurants of the decade and Bon Appetit named the Best New Restaurant in America in 2017. He also owns Molly's Rise and Shine, a breakfast spot nearby that Food & Wine named a Best New Restaurant in 2020.
Mason's cookbook, Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin' in New Orleans is a New York Times Bestseller.
He was born and raised on gas station food and rollerblading in rural Virginia. He currently lives in New Orleans and will never leave. He is also in a Duke’s Mayonnaise commercial.
Demond Melancon (b. 1978) works solely with a needle and thread to sew glass beads onto canvas. A self-taught artist, he began this form of art in 1992 when he first became part of a more than 200-year-old culture known as the Black Masking Culture of New Orleans. Today as a Big Chief, Melancon is well known for creating massive suits which he wears in ceremonial battles on Mardi Gras day. The suits he creates are sculptural forms based on the size of his body and are composed of intricately beaded patches revealing a collective visual narrative.
Over the past five years, Melancon has developed an emerging contemporary art practice using the same beading techniques he’s applied over the past 28 years as a Black Masker. His work has been exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Art Miami, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art in Brooklyn, and the Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans. Many of Melancon’s works honor Black subjects historically excluded from the artistic canon, often reflecting untold stories from bygone pasts to remind viewers of their interwoven shared ancestries and diasporic histories. He also confronts stereotypical representations of Black identity and reflects his deep interest in exploring the possibilities of visual storytelling and redefining the traditions of portraiture.
Brandan “BMIKE” Odums is a New Orleans-based visual artist who, through exhibitions, public programs, and public art works, is engaged in a transnational dialogue about the intersection of art and resistance.
From film to murals to installations, Odums’ work encapsulates the political fervor of a generation of Black American activists who came of age amidst the tenure of the nation’s first Black president, the resurgence of popular interest in law enforcement violence, and the emergence of the self-care movement. Most often working with spray paint, Odums paints brightly-colored, wall-sized murals that depict historical figures, contemporary creatives, and everyday people. In his otherwise figurative work, Odums departs from realism to play with color – blending lavender to paint the skin of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King and robin’s egg blue for Harriet Tubman, for instance – suggesting an ethos of boldness that unites the subjects of his work and surpasses race, time, or any other aspect of physical reality.
Cooking the food that’s closest to his heart has earned Chef Isaac Toups rave reviews. Isaac Toups represents the new guard of Cajun chefs for his updated sophisticated approach to a cuisine that’s best known for deep rustic flavors. His culinary style is the direct result of his New Orleans fine dining experience and growing up Cajun (Rayne, La, in the heart of Cajun country). Since opening Toups’ Meatery with his wife Amanda in 2012, Chef Isaac Toups has three times been named a James Beard Best Chef of the South Semi-finalist & finalist, and earned other notable accolades.
“All I have ever wanted to do is to offer my version of Cajun cuisine and to recreate the dining experience around my family’s table. It’s especially rewarding that our guests respond to what we’re doing.” – Chef Isaac Toups"
Stanton Moore is a GRAMMY award-winning drummer, educator and performer born and raised in New Orleans. He is especially connected to his hometown city, its culture and collaborative spirit. In the early ‘90s, Moore helped found the New Orleans-based essential funk band Galactic who continue to amass a worldwide audience via recording and touring globally. The band has averaged 100 shows a year for the last 25 years.
Throughout his 25 year career, Moore has played and or recorded with a diverse group of artists including Maceo Parker, Joss Stone, Irma Thomas, Leo Nocentelli and George Porter (of the Meters),Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine), Corrosion of Conformity, Donald Harrison Jr., Nicholas Payton, Trombone Shorty, Skerik, Charlie Hunter, Robert Walter, Will Bernard, Ivan Neville, Anders Osborne and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
With a bachelor’s degree in music and business from Loyola University, Moore stays involved in education by constantly presenting clinics and teaching master classes and private lessons all over the world. To continue with his passion for teaching and to become more closely connected with his students, he recently launched his own online drum academy, StantonMooreDrumAcademy.com.
Neal Bodenheimer was born and raised in New Orleans. In 2009 he opened his first cocktail bar, Cure, on Freret Street in Uptown New Orleans. Since then he has opened several more bars in the city, including Cane & Table, Bellocq, Vals, and Peychaud's.
In 2018 Cure won a James Beard Award for “Best Bar Program.” And Esquire Magazine named Peychaud's one of the best bars in America in 2022. He is the co-chair of the board of directors for the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, a leader in the global cocktail community committed to educating, advancing, and supporting the hospitality industry around the world.
You can find Bodenheimer's new book, Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em in bookstores and online in October 2022.
My Nguyen moved to New Orleans in 1986 and has been a commercial fisherwoman here for decades. What she loves most about New Orleans is the city's abundance of fresh seafood - cooking and eating it, in addition to catching it.
She also enjoys the Vietnamese community's farmers market on Saturday mornings in the New Orleans East neighborhood of Versailles, where you can find fresh produce, herbs, and homemade foods like rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves.