10 Years Later: Songs for New Orleans

A couple of years ago I caught up on the series Treme. I only found out the upcoming abbreviated season would be the last after I finished catching up on the previous seasons. During that viewing, I saw one of the characters run into Kimberly Rivers Roberts. I missed her name during the brief scene, but I realized that she was the one in a documentary I’d heard of from Leonard Maltin’s show in 2008. Later in the episode, the characters one by one begin to sit in front of a screen as they watch the documentary Trouble the Water, transfixed as they relive the horror that was Hurricane Katrina.

That was how Trouble the Water re-entered my life. I finally looked it up and spent a Saturday watching it as I twisted my hair. I was infuriated by what I saw as Kimberly and her husband Scott went through a mess as they tried to pick up the pieces of their life they lost during this catastrophe. I then remembered that in 2005, I was four years removed from New Orleans. I had only been back once in 2003 for a conference and hoped to visit the city again at some point and perhaps contribute to my alma mater, Xavier University of Louisiana.

In the nearly ten years since I left grad school, I was never able to visit New Orleans due to my own life circumstances. Somehow every year around this time, I think about the city and how it’s doing after a mess so huge that my mother emailed me to tell me she was so glad I was no longer there.

However, just this past week, I was able to interview Roberts, whom I’ve been pretty in awe of since I saw the documentary, at For Harriet and hopefully she can use the press in her campaign to raise money for her new documentary Fear No Gumbo. She continues to do the work in New Orleans to revitalize the communities that remain as neglected as they were before the storm.

As for me, I started to think about music. I didn’t get to enjoy the city as a proper adult when I lived there because I hardly left campus except to go to Wherehouse Music on Fridays to peruse the used CD section. For real, I don’t even know the ward I lived in and everyone knows there ward in New Orleans.

Yet I still have some fond memories of my college days. I started to become me. Perhaps the city has something to do with that. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I felt a bit of freedom. Every once in a while I think back to those days, wish I had done a few things differently and hope to correct that some time in the near future.

But for now, I turn to the music. I picked out a few storm, water and weather related selections and a few different pieces from artists from New Orleans. Of course, I had to include the interlude in which Roberts performs “Amazing” during the documentary and some music I couldn’t escape during the late 90s. DJ Jubilee and No Limit artists were all I heard in the dorm. And of course there was the jazz for old souls like me.

Songs for New Orleans gave me an excuse to do a playlist like I used to, no talking just music. Hopefully it captured the spirit, eclecticism and versatility of The Big Easy. If not, hope you enjoy it anyway.


  1. Leadbelly – House of the Rising Sun
  2. Neneh Cherry – Across the Water
  3. Ibeyi – River
  4. Delta Rae – Bottom of the River
  5. Ben Harper – Black Rain
  6. Georgia Anne Muldrow – New Orleans
  7. Professor Longhair – Tipitina
  8. Allen Toussaint – Tipitina & Me
  9. Lester and Young – Body and Soul
  10. Dumpstaphunk – Fame
  11. Dr. John – Right Place Wrong Time
  12. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band – Unclean Waters
  13. Citizen Cope – Hurricane Waters
  14. Jimi Hendrix – In from the Storm
  15. Valerie June – Rain Dance
  16. Shuggie Otis – Rainy Day
  17. Kimya Dawson – It’s Been Raining
  18. Calexico – Falling Rain
  19. S.F.T. – Sea of Darkness
  20. Kimya Dawson – Angels and Seagulls
  21. Black Kold Madina (Kimberly Rivers Roberts) – Amazing
  22. Mia X ft. Master P and Foxy Brown – The Party Don’t Stop
  23. DJ Jubilee – Back That Thang Up
  24. Big Freedia – Explode
  25. Katey Red – Don’t Speak (Make Ya Booty Go)
  26. Black Kold Madina – Trouble the Water (snippet)
  27. Nina Simone – House of the Rising Sun