In the birthplace of jazz, musical roots run deep for New Orleans high school bands

Students look forward to playing in Mardi Gras and holiday parades

High school bands bring the culture to life in the musical city of New Orleans and are the main attractions at high school sports events. The elite bands in the city have accomplished great feats: The Marching 100 (St. Augustine High School, the first band to integrate the segregated Mardi Gras Rex parade); the Edna Karr High School Marching Cougars (who appeared in Beyoncé’s “Formation” video); and Warren Easton High School (who performed at many Super Bowls and gave the nation Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews) among others.

Marching bands are a rite of passage in their New Orleans area communities and are the foundation to guide young African-American students to accomplish their goals, from completing high school to attending college to becoming famous musicians. Bands become extended families where discipline, heritage, and life lessons build a legacy for generations to come.

“When I first joined, [they] held my hand and guided me through the process of teaching myself and being able to flourish as the musician I am today,” said Mya Webster, a senior in the Edna Karr marching band.

The New Year kicks off the marathon that is parade season, as high school marching bands gear up for Mardi Gras after a crowded fall schedule that included invitations for some bands for national parades such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.