Trumpeter and preacher Hack Bartholomew lost a church but strengthened his faith after surviving Hurricane Katrina. Living on Earth's Steve Curwood listens to his jazz gospel tunes and talks with him about New Orleans' rebirth.
GELLERMAN: Last year, on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Living on Earth's Steve Curwood went to New Orleans - to see how the city was recovering and visit some of its residents.
[STREET NOISE AND STREET PERFORMANCE]
CURWOOD: In New Orleans a little bit of French goes a long ways—like beignet for donut. And where else to get these amazingly tasty morsels—but Café Dumonde at the edge of the French Quarter. Depending on the morning, along with your beignets you may get to hear street musician Hack Bartholomew.
CURWOOD: A trumpeter and vocalist who’s played with the greats, including the Neville Brothers, George Benson and Keith Richards, Hack Bartholomew left New York after 14 years to come back home to New Orleans and jazz gospel. Hack performs five days a week at Café DuMonde. When he’s not busy producing recordings, he’s the trumpeter for the Greater Saint Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church.
[MUSIC: “Lifting Jesus Up In New Orleans” from Lifting Jesus Up In New Orleans (Hack Bartholomew 2003)]
CURWOOD: As the cicadas buzzed on a hot August afternoon, Hack Bartholomew sat down on his front porch to tell me his story of how he survived Hurricane Katrina.
BARTHOLOMEW: I would say I got a revelation from God to just get out. So my wife and I and our kids, grandchildren, we all just left, fortunately my wife had a cousin in Houston and we were able to stay over at her house. When the storm hit we was sitting in Houston we were watching everything on television and praying and hoping that everything would be alright for the city. But it was not. But fortunately where we lived up here up here in Carrolton, the Carrolton black pearl section is a pretty high point of the city. As you can see my home is just like I left it. When I got back a lot of my neighbors had wind damage. The neighbor over here, his roof blew off, the neighbor over here, door and windows blew out. Just about everybody had wind damage. Except us.
[MUSIC: “Angels Keep Watching Over Me” From Lifting Up Jesus (Hack Bartholomew 2003)]
BARTHOLOMEW: But our church in New Orleans east on Reed Road, it was totally flooded. Fourteen feet of water in the church. But our uptown location was spared. And I think we were one of the first few congregations that were back after the flood.
BARTHOLOMEW: When we were in Houston we looked at the television. We saw the whole city underwater, just about, 80 percent of the city under water, and I said, you know what, God is baptizing New Orleans. You know when you baptize a person you submerge them down. It signifies one being buried and when you bring ‘em up, they are rising up again, to that new man who is coming up, that’s rising from the water.
…New Orleans was really going off the deep end there with all kinds of things going on, with the crime and corruption, and what have you. And it kinda made people think. It made the politicians think, it made the people of New Orleans think about doing something positive, about having integrity, about being accountable, to your brothers and sisters who you see every day. That storm, at the time it was happening, it didn’t look too good. But in the end, it was very good because we had all of the love and compassion of people, the help of the people who came down to help us, all black white, Chinese, Asians, Indians, you name it, I think they might have had some purple people here, but I aint seen ‘em though. Everybody was like, putting their shoulders together and doing this thing, helping this city to come back.
[MUSIC: “Down By The Riverside” from Lifting Jesus Up In New Orleans (Hack Bartholomew 2003)]
CURWOOD: you like play the tune down by the riverside, what is the war you’re talking about that we shouldn’t study anymore?
BARTHOLOMEW: The war that I’m talking about is not Iraq or Afghanistan or Vietnam or any of that. The war I’m talking about is the battlefield of your mind. The people that makes us want to hurt another person, take from them is that your mind, your heart, your soul.
[MUSIC: DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE]
GELLERMAN: New Orleans trumpeter Hack Bartholomew. He spoke with Living on Earth's Steve Curwood.
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