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New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity to Celebrate the Beginning of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music


In true musical fashion, Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis kicked off the groundbreaking of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music with a celebration like none other at the Musicians' Village in the Upper Ninth Ward.


The celebration marked the beginning of construction on the Center which includes a community center and performing arts theater.  The festivities included performances by Bob French and the Original Tuxedo Band and Shamarr Allen Combo. Connick and Branford sat in with both bands to celebrate the realization of their brainchild -- the Musicians' Village.

"A musical celebration like this is the only way we could get started on the construction of the Center," stated Jim Pate, Executive Director, New Orleans area Habitat for Humanity.  "These are the types of performances that will happen at the Center and throughout the streets as more and more musicians move in."

The Heart of the center will be a 150-seat performance space equipped with movable chairs as well as state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems.  In addition, the Center will contain recording studio facilities and teaching space for individual and group instruction as well as offices for technical and administrative staff.  The Center will also own five elder-friendly duplexes, to be rented exclusively to musicians, and administer an adjacent toddler park.  The Center plans to integrate performance and education in an array of artistic disciplines, with a primary focus on music.

The facilities of the Center will serve as a meeting, rehearsal and performance space.  The facility will provide working musicians with an environment in which to improve their studio and Internet skills.  It will also provide them with the opportunity to expand their existing networks with creative artists who are committed to preserving and expanding such ongoing traditions associated with New Orleans as the marching band, the Second Line parade and the Mardi Gras Indian tribes.

The Celebration will be included in an upcoming episode of "This Old House" which is currently shooting in New Orleans.  The Emmy Award-winning television series will dedicate its second project of the 2007-2008 season to the recovery and rebuilding efforts of New Orleans.  The show's primary project will be working with Holy Cross homeowner Rashida Ferdinand, a recipient of the Historic Building Recovery Grants program. Continuing its focus on salvaging historic neighborhoods, "This Old House" will begin by tracking the story of the Musicians' Village. In the first episode, host Kevin O'Connor and master carpenter Norm Abram will tour the affordable housing development with Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis, while Ellis Marsalis will discuss his vision for the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music.

Ten brand new episodes featuring the "This Old House" New Orleans project will premiere nationally on PBS Thursday, January 24, 2008 (check or your local listings).

Additionally, to celebrate the community spirit of the Village, Connick spent the week filming the most recent spot in Lincoln's "Dreams" advertising campaign featuring New Orleans musicians and the rebuilding efforts of New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.  The "Dreams" campaign is designed to celebrate the spirit of giving back and inspire people to experience their dreams.  Lincoln selected Connick and the Musicians' Village for its most recent spot to help shine the spotlight on the energy, drive and accomplishments of this important community project.  During the groundbreaking ceremony, Lincoln gave away the car used in the commercial, a Lincoln MKX, to Peter "Chuck" Badie, a resident musician whose career spans six decades and who has performed with Louis Armstrong.

"Lincoln is pleased to be working with Harry Connick, Jr. and helping him achieve his dream of reviving the glory of New Orleans -- Musicians' Village," said Mike Richards, Lincoln Mercury General Marketing Manager.  "The Lincoln brand aims to reach the hearts and minds of consumers by encouraging the pursuit of their dreams and celebrating achievement along the way."

About This Old House

This Old House Ventures nets a total of 50 million impressions per month and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Inc.  The leading consumer publication for home how-to, know-how and inspiration, This Old House magazine has a circulation of 950,000 and an audience of almost six million. This Old House Television is produced by This Old House Productions, Inc. and has a current weekly audience estimated at 8 million viewers. The eminent online destination for home renovation and design, receives over one million unique visitors per month.

About Lincoln and Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles in 200 markets across six continents. With about 260,000 employees and about 100 plants worldwide, the company's core and affiliated automotive brands include Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo and Mazda. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information about Lincoln, visit

About New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity

New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH), an independent affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization. NOAHH builds new houses in partnerships with sponsors, volunteers, communities, and homeowner families to eliminate poverty housing in the New Orleans area while serving as a catalyst to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.  Since 1983, NOAHH has built over 160 new homes for low-income families.  Over the next five years, NOAHH plans to build 1,500 homes in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes.  For more information, go to

  Contact:  Aleis Tusa
            New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity
            (504) 251-5710

            Brianne Lunzmann
            (949) 223-2314
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Photo:  NewsCom:
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As one of the many musicians who was nurtured by the vibrant cultural environment in New Orleans, I cannot overstate the importance of the Musicians’ Village.  Please lend your support for those artists eager to call New Orleans home again, and for those in future generations who will be the beneficiaries of their knowledge.- Branford Marsalis

Video: A Dream Becomes Reality
Video: The Village through Harry's eyes, two years later.

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