Internationally-acclaimed NEA Jazz Master Delfeayo Marsalis leads urgent appeal to help support New Orleans musical culture through new non-profit inspired by legacy of father,
pianist Ellis Marsalis

Marsalis celebrates Keep NOLA Music Alive with August 2 virtual fundraising performance – “Double-Nickel Birthday Bash”

Understanding both the professional and financial uncertainty facing native New Orleans musicians, trombonist, composer and producer Delfeayo Marsalis is launching a new non-profit designed to help keep the city’s music culture thriving.
“My dad dedicated his life to growing and promoting New Orleans musicians,” said Marsalis the legendary New Orleans pianist Ellis Marsalis who succumbed to Covid-19 on April 1, 2020 at the age of 85. “Today, the global health pandemic presents a threat to New Orleans’ culture bearers like none before. No less than our centuries-old musical heritage is at risk. With all performance venues shut down indefinitely and the musical tourism industry boarded up, our artists are struggling with both professional and financial uncertainty. Keep NOLA Music Alive was organized to fill a huge void.”
Delfeayo kicks off the fundraising effort with a “Double-Nickel Birthday Bash” virtual performance Sunday, August 2, 5 p.m. CDT/6 p.m. EDT marking his 55th birthday. To attend the concert, log on to The concert will feature dynamic performances by the Uptown Jazz Orchestra and vocal powerhouse Tonya Boyd-Cannon.
Donations can be made now at www.knoma.orgDonors can indicate how their funds are to be utilized and/or include a personal dedication in honor of a particular person or artist.
“We know the need is there, so now is the time to step up and help,” says Marsalis.
The idea to start the KNOMA initiative arose from a local record store’s tribute to Marsalis’ father.
“Peaches Records in Uptown New Orleans, for decades a supporter of local artists and New Orleans music, posted a sign that read, ‘Thank you Ellis Marsalis for Keeping NOLA Music Alive!’ the day after my dad’s passing,” Marsalis said. He developed a plan, assembled a board of directors, and secured lead funding for KNOMA, assuring that 100 percent of all donations go directly to New Orleans musicians and culture bearers.
Artists, who must be native-born or long-term resident performers in New Orleans to receive assistance, can apply for grants through KNOMA’s website.
“We can no longer take for granted the brass bands on corners, the street musicians in Jackson Square, and the players in our clubs who perform with the joy and celebration that millions of visitors equate with the Big Easy,” says Marsalis.  “We have to keep our music, the heart of New Orleans, beating for generations to come!”

Keep NOLA Music Alive assists in sustaining New Orleans culture by providing emergency aid to native musicians and culture bearers.

ABOUT A rich and thriving musical culture attracts countless visitors to New Orleans from around the world. Native culture bearers—from musicians to dancers and other performers—have sustained this centuries old heritage for future generations to enjoy. The Covid-19 pandemic [and Katrina before it] has exposed the vulnerability of these individuals, who even in good times can suffer from circumstances beyond their control. Keep NOLA Music Alive, a 501c3, provides emergency assistance to those artists who live the music of the city where jazz was born.

ELIGIBILITY Applicants must earn their livelihood substantially through performance in New Orleans and can demonstrate unexpected financial hardship. A written application must be submitted.

For more information and to donate, visit

Delfeayo Marsalis, Founder, KNOMA  © Zac Smith
Born and raised in New Orleans, LA, trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis (55) has dedicated his life to music, theatre and education. At the age of 17, he began his career as a producer and has to date produced over 120 recordings garnering one Grammy award and several nominations. Marsalis has played trombone in bands led by legendary musicians Ray Charles, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Elvin Jones and Slide Hampton, as well as leading his own groups. In 2008, he formed the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, a highly entertaining ensemble that focuses on maintaining important jazz traditions such as riff playing, New Orleans polyphony and spontaneous arrangements.

In 2000, Marsalis formed the Uptown Music Theatre, a non-profit organization that empowers youth through musical theatre training. He has written sixteen musicals to date based on historical and/or uniting the community. His American Legacy Series includes informational works on Harriet Tubman, Althea Gibson, Duke Ellington, the Harlem Renaissance and Those Crazy 60s! In addition, Marsalis has composed over 100 songs that help introduce kids to jazz through musical theatre and has reached over 5,000 students nationally with his Swinging with the Cool School soft introduction to jazz workshops. In 2014, his Kidstown After School program was implemented in three New Orleans elementary schools.

Marsalis has a dual degree in music performance and production from Berklee College of Music, a masters in jazz performance from the University of Louisville and was conferred a doctorate from the New England College. In 2011, he was named an NEA Jazz Master, the highest honor given to a jazz musician in America. In New Orleans, Marsalis has won Best of the Beat Awards for Best Trombonist (2009), Best Contemporary Jazz Artist (2017) and Best Contemporary Jazz recording (Make America Great Again! 2017). Marsalis is the recipient of a 3M Visionary Award and the 2020 Berklee Alumni Achievement Award.

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