NEW ORLEANS — Tarriona "Tank" Ball, known for her commanding performances as a musician, poet, author, and culture bearer of New Orleans, has embarked on a new project.
Tank hosts Ritual, a series commissioned by PBS, that explores how history, customs, and rituals are rooted in New Orleans and across the South. Through the series, Tank meets with community members, other culture bearers, and historians to observe rituals around death, environmental stewardship, and community renewal.
Tank sat down an talked with WWL-TV's Eric Paulsen about the project.
Tank said the women working behind the scenes of the series have inspired her to delve deeper into her own history.
"They're so passionate about it," she said. "They make me even more passionate about it. I get to learn more about my own history... every show because I am learning something new from my people."
She said that each episode's revelations have moved her to tears.
The series aims to educate viewers about the richness and diversity of the local traditions. So far, the series has explored Black graveyards, a soup symbolizing freedom for Haitians, the power of Hoodoo, and the art of Black masking in New Orleans. Black masking, a tradition that involves hours of costume preparation, culminates on Super Sunday when New Orleans gathers to admire the vibrant display of feathers and colors.
Tank says the series is more than just entertainment. It also serves as an educational tool, especially for younger audiences. She compared her role to that of LeVar Burton, the host of "Reading Rainbow."
"I am in the homes of children and adults alike," Tank says. "I'm part of the fabric of your childhood. I am part of your learning, and I think that's amazing. That's a dream to inspire children."
You can watch Ritual on PBS's website.
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