My friend Wynton Marsalis comes from a rich musical-family tradition in New Orleans that I share with my family. From that core of talent and tradition has sprung an amazing young man who has worn many hats in his career: musician, composer, ambassador, activist, arts administrator and more. He's an original in so many ways and has a tremendous influence on the popularity of modern jazz and its deep roots in New Orleans history. We share a love for our universally beloved hometown and were shattered by its recent destruction.
No one has done more than Wynton, 44, to bring the plight of today's New Orleans to the attention of the world. Over the past year, we have shared the stage many times, performing at post-Katrina fund raisers. I look at him, he looks at me, and you can feel the mutual pain. Gone are the many nooks and crannies of the place we called home and which brought us so much joy and brotherhood. Wynton and his music personify New Orleans and its great musical tradition, today displaced but not destroyed. His willingness to give of his time and talent in preserving and promoting the New Orleans music heritage is a great tribute to his character and personality. When you've known someone as long as I've known Wynton, nothing surprises you, but in his case, it is a wonder that he still finds time to pay homage and support to the place that gave him his start. Wynton is a special brother, whose music and persona flow forth freely with truth, talent and tenacity.
Award-winning singer Neville, whose home was destroyed by Katrina, has been active in the relief effort