The April selection for our Record of the Month Club is here!
Club members will be treated to the New Orleans sounds of Cha Wa pressed on “Mardi Gras colored vinyl” from our buddies at Single Lock Records. To top it all off, the band autographed all of the copies! We’ve got a small amount of copies set aside for new subscribers, so don’t sleep and sign up asap.
GRAMMY-nominated New Orleans band Cha Wa return with My People, a new collection that honors and builds upon the rich culture and traditions of the city’s Mardi Gras Indian community. Arriving via the renowned southern independent label Single Lock Records, My People is an exuberant homage to the sounds of the Mardi Gras Indians – a group predominantly made up of New Orleans’ African American community which pays respect to the area’s Native American tribes with their wardrobe, music and dialect. Packed with a vivid assemblage of New Orleans sounds and stories, this new Cha Wa record infuses the traditional chants of the Mardi Gras Indians with grooves reminiscent of a ‘70s New Orleans funk band like The Meters (particularly on offerings like “Wildman” and “Bow Down”) and takes clear influence from the city’s rich history of jazz, R&B, hip-hop, rock, soul and African-inspired arrangements (including a chilling cover of Bob Dylan’s “Masters Of War” in this style).
With roots dating back to the 19th century, Mardi Gras Indians are most commonly associated with internationally-known New Orleans celebrations like Fat Tuesday, but the tradition is said to have started as a way for the city’s African American community to express gratitude to Native Americans for giving shelter to black New Orleanians fleeing enslavement. Cha Wa’s music has deep roots in this Mardi Gras Indian community, with vocalist Joseph Boudreaux Jr. serving as Second Chief of the Golden Eagles tribe and his father, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, having played a pioneering role in bringing Mardi Gras Indian music onto the national stage for the first time as a member of The Wild Magnolias. In more recent years, Mardi Gras Indians have displayed their role as community leaders with front line responses to both Hurricane Katrina and the unlawful NOPD conduct that resulted in investigations by the Obama administration.
Cha Wa was formed by bandleader Joe Gelini shortly before the release of the group’s 2018 debut album Spyboy, which was recognized with a Best Regional Roots Album nomination at the GRAMMYs that year. A student of the legendary New Orleans drummer Idris Muhammad, Gelini was taken by Mardi Gras Indian culture and began to immerse himself in the community’s musical circles after moving to the area. Working with Boudreaux and many of the top musicians from New Orleans’ Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs and Second Line brass bands, Cha Wa quickly became a staple of its city’s street culture before bringing Mardi Gras Indian music to the GRAMMYs and around the world. My People represents the next step for Cha Wa in preserving and advancing these sacred New Orleans traditions.