NEW ORLEANS —
He’s tickled the ivories at Preservation Hall in the French Quarter for nearly 40 years.
“Nobody’s asked me to leave, so I’m still here,” said Rickie Monie.
Starting piano at the age of eight and now one of Preservation Hall’s sixty musicians, Monie knows New Orleans Jazz — and his way around a piano.
“Nothing relaxes me and takes me away from my worries as much as playing the piano does,” said Monie.
Those worries have hit a crescendo these days for Monie and other musicians as all that lively music has gone flat across the city.
“Everything is closed. We don’t have any gigs. Nobody is working,” said Monie. “The churches are closed. I play for churches on Saturdays and Sundays.”
Part of what keeps Preservation Hall musicians like Monie financially stable are grants through the venue’s foundation, which keeps them working year-round. Now with no work, artists are struggling.
“We knew those musicians rely on those opportunities for their livelihood,” said Preservation Hall Director Ben Jaffe. “Music is their career.”
Jaffe hopes a new partnership with music streaming giant Spotify will help. Preservation Hall was selected to be a part of Spotify’s COVID-19 Music Relief Project, one of only four foundations in the country to make the list.
“That really speaks to the importance of New Orleans music and what we give the world,” said Jaffe.
Folks can donate directly through Spotify, which will then match dollar-for-dollar, up to $10 million collectively. Jaffe even created a playlist to share New Orleans with the world.
“People who love music, one of the greatest gifts you can give them is New Orleans,” said Jaffe.
With artists like Monie being part of that gift, he’s focused on making sure New Orleans gets back something much greater in return.
“New Orleans traditional Jazz is a part of our culture, and we need to keep it. That’s what preservation hall is about,” said Monie.
A culture built over generations, one note at a time.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation was also chosen to take part in the campaign, which launched Friday. To donate and check out those playlists, follow this link: https://covid19musicrelief.byspotify.com/