Our Story

Located in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music uses music as the focal point of a holistic strategy to build a healthy community and to deliver a broad range of services to underserved children, youth, and musicians from neighborhoods battling poverty and social injustice. The Center is a safe and supportive environment where children and youth develop musically, academically, and socially; where local musicians perform, record, and develop professionally; and where the community gathers. The Center also serves as a community resource and a catalyst for cultural preservation.

Get to know us even better by watching the video below.

The origin story of using art as a catalyst for social change, to build this community and to build the Center as a community hub—there’s something very powerful about that.


Preserving Our Legacy…

After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Ninth Ward and its surrounding neighborhoods in 2005, New Orleans natives Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr. realized that New Orleans’ vibrant musical heritage was in danger. To preserve their hometown’s artistic heritage and honor the men and women at its heart, they partnered with New Orleans Habitat for Humanity to build an affordable housing development for musicians and culture bearers: Musicians’ Village. Here, the city’s musicians could live in safe homes that they owned and work on their craft surrounded by artists.

In 2012, the centerpiece of Musicians’ Village, the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, opened its doors. Named for the incomparable jazz legend and educator, the Center’s 17,000-square-foot facility includes a state-of-the-art performance hall and recording studio, as well as a technology center, listening library, dance studio, and world-class teaching facilities for individual and group instruction.

Ellis Marsalis playing the piano at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music
Performer singing on stage.

…Building Our Future

Today, the Center continues to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of New Orleans, its musicians, and its children. Our children and youth music education program includes robust training in piano, vocals, strings, percussion, winds, brass, dance, and audio engineering. Students also have access to homework help, computer coding classes, and technology support in their studies.

Adults can take piano lessons too, as well as financial literacy classes and access other classes and resources available to the community. Musicians of all ages can utilize our performance hall and recording studio to perform and create projects of all kinds, including singles, albums, audiobooks, podcasts, and more. The Center also offers live concerts curated with local musicians to perpetuate the rich and fabulous tradition of live music of every kind found in New Orleans.

The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music has established itself as Ellis Marsalis’s living legacy and will continue to grow and evolve and rise to meet the needs of our treasured community. We remain committed to serving our community by leveraging music and education as catalysts for social change.