Ani DiFranco’s visionary approach to folk music captivates her fans, inspires political change, and demands accountability from our leaders. Her songwriting is keenly prophetic, and her deeply revealing storytelling evokes a powerful sense of empathy. For her impassioned songwriting and masterful guitar skills, Ani DiFranco is lauded as one of our nation’s greatest singer-songwriters. For her blunt critiques of political corruption and unwavering advancement of feminist ideals, she is a cherished cultural icon.
Throughout a career spanning multiple decades, DiFranco has released over 20 albums and garnered critical acclaim, all while constantly rejecting and challenging a mainstream music industry dominated by male voices and influence. Her music forms a patchwork of distinct experiences and viewpoints that together tell the tale of a seasoned musician and acutely insightful observer.
HOORAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF
Hurray For The Riff Raff is Alynda Lee Segarra, but in many ways it’s much more than that: it’s a young woman leaving her indelible stamp on the American folk tradition. If you’re listening to her new album, ‘Small Town Heroes,’ odds are you’re part of the riff raff, and these songs are for you.
THE ROOTS OF MUSIC
The Roots of Music empowers the youth of New Orleans through music education, academic support, and mentoring, while preserving and promoting the unique musical and cultural heritage of the city. Co-founded in 2007 by Derrick Tabb, snare drummer for the Grammy Award-winning Rebirth Brass Band and 2009 CNN Hero, Roots serves kids ages 9-14 from low-income households across the city and strives to use music as a tool for teaching students the skills they need to lead positive and productive lives. The year-round after school program provides music classes and performance opportunities, academic support and homework assistance, instruments and maintenance, round-trip transportation, and daily hot meals to its students five days a week, twelve months a year, all free of charge. The Roots of Music serves more than 150 children from over 40 different schools throughout Orleans Parish each year.
THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA
Five-time Grammy Award and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winners the Blind Boys of Alabama are the heart and soul of their home state’s rich musical history. Since original members first sang together over 70 years ago, their stirringly soulful sound has been celebrated by critics, musicians, and fans alike for its sincere, down-to-earth depiction of traditional American gospel music. And for having persevered through monumentally transformative national events, like the American Civil Rights Movement, the Blind Boys of Alabama are irreplaceable storytellers.
President Barack Obama isn’t the first American president to honor the Blind Boys of Alabama as national treasures. President Clinton and both past Presidents Bush all hosted the Blind Boys of Alabama as guests of the White House in recognition of their accomplishments as artists. The Blind Boys of Alabama have shared the stage with a diverse lineup of American music legends ranging from Bob Dylan to Smokey Robinson and past JusticeAid featured artist Trombone Shorty at historic venues including Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Read full bio of the Blind Boys of Alabama here.
Troy Andrews has literally burst onto the music scene in the past few years. His accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable.
- Performer of the Year: Offbeat Magazine’s 2013 Best of the Beat Music Awards
- HBO Treme: Appearances in six episodes of this HBO hit series
- The White House: White House Performance as part of the Black History Month celebration, In Performance at the White House: Red, White & Blues, a PBS premiere (February 2012)
- NCAA/CBS Credits: Hit single “Do To Me” featured before both semi-final games of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball Tournament on CBS
- Service Accolades: President’s Medal from Tulane University’s President Scott Cowen in recognition of Andrews’ community service work with the Horns for Schools Project
- Performance & Recordings: Supported shows for Jeff Beck and Dave Matthews Band. Appeared on Conan, Late Night with David Letterman, Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Austin City Limits. Recorded with Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Lenny Kravitz, and Galactic
Finally, Andrews has formed The Trombone Shorty Foundation (an outgrowth of his Horns for Schools Project), whose mission is to preserve the unique musical culture of New Orleans by passing down its traditions to future generations. In furthering his mission, Andrews donates instruments to New Orleans schools, and has recently partnered with Tulane University to provide mentoring for aspiring music students in the new After School Academy.
While only in her early 30s, two-time Grammy nominee Shemekia Copeland is already a force to be reckoned with in the blues. She’s opened for the Rolling Stones, headlined at the Chicago Blues Festival, scored critics choice awards on both sides of the Atlantic (The New York Times and The Times of London), shared the stage with such luminaries as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Mick Jagger, and Eric Clapton, and has even performed at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama.
Born in Harlem, New York, in 1979, Copeland is the daughter of the late Texas blues guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland, who always encouraged her to sing at home, and even brought her on stage to sing at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club when she was just eight years old.
Copeland’s passion for singing, matched with her huge, blast-furnace voice, gives her music a timeless power and a heart-pounding urgency. Her music comes from deep within her soul and from the streets where she grew up, surrounded by the everyday sounds of the city – street performers, gospel singers, blasting radios, bands in local parks and so much more.
Andersson, star performer at our NOLA event, is a Swedish indie soul singer-violinist beckoned by the spangled sirens of New Orleans and its devilishly hot jazz. Inspired by a one-man-puppet-show (Blair Thomas, Chicago), in which the puppeteer played multiple characters and the drums, Andersson creates a rich live sound using two loop pedals to simultaneously play violin, voice, and guitar along with her record player, drums, and dulcimer. The outcome? Andersson “delights as a dexterous one-woman band” (Spin). Andersson has performed and recorded with New Orleans luminaries Allen Toussaint, The Neville Brothers, The Meters, and Betty Harris. She has also appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
Flow Tribe serves up New Orleans’ funk in a big way, and they don’t like to keep quiet. The band’s six members comprise a smoking hot rhythm section, dueling guitars, horns, and even a washboard. Their talented take on New Orleans’ signature sound makes it hard for them to keep a low profile. They’ve shared the stage with names like John Fogerty, Trombone Shorty, funk/jazz greats Galactic, and more. Relix magazine calls them “bizarrely irresistible,” and USA Today showcased their performance earlier this year at New Orleans’ famed Jazz Fest. Flow Tribe has partnered with JusticeAid in D.C. and New Orleans.
The Morrison Brothers are hometown heroes when it comes to country rock, partnering with JusticeAid at our Gideon’s Promise and DCLISC events. Since brothers Willie and Truman Morrison got the band started back in 2008, they’ve released three full-length albums, and conquered every premier venue in the capital city. In July, they returned to the 9:30 Club, ranked #1 on list of “The Best Big Rooms in America” to premiere their latest album, “State of the Union.” The album’s first single “Little Miss Whiskey” is receiving extensive air-play on DC’s top country station, WMZQ 98.7 FM.
Pants Velour hails from New York City, and brings with them a blend of hip hop, rock, pop, and soul. It’s a style that the Washington City Paper calls “party-ready hip hop,” and that has been likened to the Beastie Boys, The Roots, and the Black Eyed Peas. Earlier this year at the New Music Seminar in New York, they landed a spot on the conference’s “Top 100 Artists on the Verge” list. Pants Velour rocked the Black Cat (and us!) at our DCLISC event.
Mary Ann Redmond is known for her soulful and wide-ranging vocal style in popular and jazz music. She is a local talent who has won 24 Wammies to date. She is described as “an exciting vocal talent” in a Billboard magazine article that went on to say “….Redmond is wowing club audiences as a completely formed stylist, who sings heartfelt ballads and funky tunes with equal ease and enthusiasm in an alto voice that soars effortlessly to soprano range.” Mary Ann Redmond helped JusticeAid get its start wowing our first audience at The Hamilton to raise money at our inaugural event.