Our Founders

Harry Connick, Jr.

Harry Connick, Jr., is a Grammy and Emmy Award-winning and Tony-nominated musician, singer, actor, and composer. His career has taken him from the Billboard music charts to prime-time television, Hollywood big screens, and Broadway stages. A native of New Orleans, he was mentored by the late Ellis Marsalis, Jr., and his ethos as an artist embodies a deep commitment to his roots and to preserving his city’s musical heritage. After Hurricane Katrina, Connick was inspired to launch the collaboration that became the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music and Musicians’ Village. He remains deeply involved with the Center as an ambassador and board member.

Hear Harry Connick, Jr., discuss the vision that drove him and his co-founders as they embarked on building the Center.

Branford Marsalis

Branford Marsalis is a Grammy Award-winning and Emmy-nominated saxophonist, composer, educator, and celebrated bandleader of the Branford Marsalis Quartet. Throughout his distinguished career, he has graced stages worldwide, both with his quartet and as a featured classical soloist, in addition to his work as a composer for film, television, and Broadway. As the eldest son of the late Ellis Marsalis, Jr., he is a member of one of jazz music’s most legendary families. Co-founder of the Center and Musicians’ Village, Marsalis passionately advocates for supporting working musicians and delivering music education to underserved children. Like Connick, he is an involved and active ambassador and board member.

Hear Branford Marsalis discuss his father’s teaching philosophy, which shapes the Center’s curriculum to this day.

Ann Marie Wilkins

Ann Marie Wilkins, a co-founder of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, is also the founder and chief executive officer of Wilkins Management, Inc., and the long-time manager of Marsalis and Connick. Wilkins has been deeply involved in the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music since its founding, providing invaluable visioning, administrative, and fundraising support. She serves as the organization’s Board Chair.

Hear Ann Marie Wilkins discuss how the Center both meets the basic needs of young people and challenges them to strive for excellence.

Learn more about the founding of the Center in the video below.

Help Keep Music Alive in the Ninth Ward