December 26th, 2005


Christmas in New Orleans

Marva Wright's Christmas Show at Tipitina's was a religious experience for me. It was all the midnight mass I need.

Marva's version of I Will Survive was a rousing yet bittersweet booster shot for post-storm survivors. Rockin' Dopsie, Jr. kept the crowd moving and grooving. The most emotional moment of the night was when Irvin Mayfield, Jr. played a haunting trumpet solo of Silent Night. The tears were flowing during that one as I thought about the silence in the damaged, empty houses all over New Orleans.

Marva finished the show with What A Wonderful World. The night was a reminder of all that is still wonderful about New Orleans.

"New Orleans Christmas Will Survive With Marva Wright
Author: Steve Sabludowsky | 12/26/2005 Home : Culture

There was no “taps” at “Tips” on this New Orleans Christmas Katrina night.

Instead, we were treated to a very live Marva Wright, Rockin Doopsie Jr., Irvin Mayfield and some of the most incredible sounds coming out of New Orleans commemorating a Christmas to remember.

Pure New Orleans, reborn again with soul coming from the inner organs full of intense pain.

Tipitina’s—that New Orleans museum of music-was full to its rafters on this Christmas night 2005. Nevermind the trailers parked in front of thousands of homes or the fact that many had no homes to call their own—this was Christmas New Orleans style and with a powerful and special Marva Wright smile.

That mama from Nawlins who is playing ambassador around the world was at her best and was so appreciated when the emotional New Orleans lovers knew what she meant when she sang “I will survive”.

Yes, on this Christmas night in the uptown section of New Orleans, we were all survivors who were moving on with their lives and loving the culture and music that has made New Orleans so proud and distinct.

Marva Wright and a cast of the most talented local musicians played and sang as if their lives depended on it. They were taking part of a major piece of American history and they knew it all so well. On this Christmas night in a city demolished by mother nature, Mother Marva brought home the spirit that has made a city grand and helped it to believe that it will survive—come hell or high waters."


LIVED: Gentilly, New Orleans
DIED: Gentilly, New Orleans

"He was a normal New Orleans guy," said Irvin Mayfield Jr., one of New Orleans' best-known jazz trumpeters, referring to his father. "But that's what made him so special."

What he meant was that Mayfield, 64, was a postal worker for whom jazz was a part of everyday life, in a city where music is the sap in countless family trees. The father was his son's first trumpet teacher, and his son's ultimate success -- a nomination for a Grammy -- delighted him.

The younger Mayfield's composition for his ruined city, "All the Saints," was presented last month by the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, through which the younger Mayfield has set up a jazz education fund in his father's name.

Mayfield was a Vietnam veteran and worked as a maintenance supervisor for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years. In addition to jazz, he loved chess and crossword puzzles.

His body was found just a few blocks from his home on Music Street. He drowned after the levees were breached. For Mayfield Jr., who holds the appointed post of cultural ambassador for the city, saving New Orleans and preserving his father's legacy have become part of the same mission.

"Our culture is not only in high society," the son said. "It's spread all through the city."