Michael Weintrob and I first connected at a crawfish boil during Jazz Fest in New Orleans. I overheard him talking about shooting artist portraits of musicians, not through their eyes as with traditional portraiture, but through their instruments. Needless to say, I was intrigued and curious to learn more. A few minutes later, I met Michael and heard more about his story. Right off the bat I could sense this was no ordinary project of Michael’s. This was his life passion. Michael shared that this work had taken over 17 years to complete. He had a few copies of his book, INSTRUMENTHEAD, and I had the chance to look over the portraits.
Art as Connection,
Finding Your Voice
The connection with Wallace Bridges was pure magic, like the pulling a rabbit out of the hat magic. In the end, it would have never happened without the help of The Magic Hour community. The Thursday before the first weekend of Jazz Fest, I received a phone call an hour before leaving my home to film The Magic Hour at SoBou. The guest I had scheduled to interview had an emergency and would not be able to be meet for filming or lunch. As we hung up the phone, I tried to think of a replacement guest. I then remembered that William Scott from episode three had shared he was going to introduce a cousin who was in town for Jazz Fest. At the same moment, a post appeared on my Facebook feed of William with his cousin hanging out in his apartment. I immediately dialed William to see if his cousin Wallace would want to be the guest on the show, as I knew Wallace had roots in New Orleans. Wallace agreed, and I was excited to have quickly filled the hole in the schedule. At this point in time, I did not know was that Wallace was the father of Leon Bridges, who was performing the next day at Jazz Fest. The same two-time Grammy nominated Leon Bridges who has been taking the music world by storm and bringing a legendary soul sound back to the forefront.
Paying It Forward,
Many different factors came together in 2014 to inspire Welcome To College’s relocation to New Orleans. One the most unique and wise individuals I met during this time was Dr. Charles Mary. I was a participant in the Idea Village IDEAx program, and was fortunate to meet Dr. Mary’s daughter Mignonne Mary through this experience. Mignonne is the founder of the Remedy Room, an IV hydration and wellness clinic. She and her husband, Doug Hammel, became incredible friends of mine and helped familiarize my family and me with New Orleans.
Havilah Malone exudes life. Our initial connection occurred during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week this past March as I worked a table representing Welcome To College. I like to think that the glass beads I was rocking that day were what brought us together, but when Havilah walked by, we shared an immediate connection. She had the most genuine smile and warm presence.
The connection with Chad was all about the timing and the t-shirt. I was working with team Deswine Intervention on a beautiful Saturday afternoon during the Hogs for the Cause event in New Orleans. Hogs is an annual BBQ competition fundraiser for pediatric brain cancer. The weekend was a blast. Our booth was near the main entrance, a prime location for us to engage with attendees either leaving or entering the event. Thousands of people came and went through this entrance, however it was Chad’s purple Team Gleason shirt that caught my eye. I had never seen a purple Gleason shirt before. Steve Gleason played for the New Orleans Saints, and his blocked punt on the night the Superdome reopened for the first time after Hurricane Katrina is now legend. In 2011 he was diagnosed with ALS, and since then he has inspired people around the globe to live purposefully and thrive while having this terminal disease. The shirt says “No White Flags”, the Team Gleason mantra for not letting the disease limit life.
Service to Others,
I met Caroline while waiting in line for coffee at Cherry Espresso uptown in New Orleans, just a few days before the major parades kicked off during Mardi Gras 2017. I had been chatting with some of the awesome Cherry staff, Ryan and Nikki, about the Jazz Fest lineup release. This is when Caroline, covered in paint, jumped into the conversation. I knew in that moment she must have been working on something amazing, and when I asked her about it, her answer was not what I had expected. “I paint Mardi Gras floats,” she casually responded. I was beyond stoked since I had never met a Mardi Gras float painter before, and I had a million questions I wanted to ask her. But I tempered my excitement and proceeded to ask a few basic questions about where she was from and how long she had been doing this amazing work.
Art as Connection
It’s not everyday when you grab a bite to eat and end up sitting next to the family of a world-class executive chef, visiting from Puerto Rico nonetheless. I was lucky enough to experience this in early February while eating lunch at SoBou in New Orleans. I knew when they came into the restaurant with smiles and an unforgettable positive energy that this was no ordinary family.
Really Wanting It,
Happy May 4th! No better story to share today than that of Joe Rohaley, also known as Saint Vader, as many around the world celebrate Star Wars Day. Joe’s message is an incredibly powerful one we all need to hear more often.
Dance Like Nobody's Watching,
It was July of 2014, and I was enjoying the kickoff BBQ in the backyard of Matt Candler’s house for the ninth cohort of the Launch Program. Matt is the CEO of 4.0 Schools in New Orleans. I will never forget the powerful sense of community I felt in the air that afternoon as Matt spoke. “We are not worried about what it is you are building now,” Matt shared, “we are concerned about the 20-year version of who you are to become.” I was surrounded by an incredible group of people from all across the country, united by a shared passion to positively impact education.
Starting with Why
I must have walked by William Scott at least 20 times over the past two years heading towards my seat in section 107 at the New Orleans Pelicans games. Each time, William greeted me with a smile and positive vibe. His optimism was contagious, as if to reassure me that we’d win each game. One day, I finally took a moment to introduce myself and thank him for the energy he brings to our section.
Belief In Yourself,