It’s been said that music “washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,”* but music also changes lives. It happened in 1990, when a 4-year-old boy in New Orleans was handed a horn.
Born Troy Michael Andrews, that young trombone player would walk the streets of his culturally-rich Treme neighborhood blowing his horn. He emulated the musicians he heard playing in the “second line” parades, most notably his older brother James, a skilled performer in his own right. Young Troy was so small—his instrument was twice his size—and so talented, that he earned the nickname “Trombone Shorty,” and it stuck.
Over the years, he listened attentively to his elders who educated him on the city’s deeply-rooted musical traditions. His capable hands absorbed these lessons, and he practiced, constantly. A band-leader at age 8 and touring musician at 10, Trombone Shorty’s horn became his passport that opened the doors to the world. And, trombone in hand, he eagerly walked through them.
Just as music transformed his own life, Trombone Shorty has advanced the course of the New Orleans sound by making it his own. Always respectful of and inspired by the music’s history, he developed a foundation built upon the many musical traditions of his hometown—jazz, gospel, and R&B—and updated them with modern rock and hip-hop influences. In doing so, he has created his own style, one he calls “SupaFunkRock.”
Trombone Shorty and his band Orleans Avenue perform before audiences all over the world in large concert venues, arenas and often headlining large festivals. They recently performed at the 2014 Grammy Awards, accompanying Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis contributing to their performance of “Same Love.”
Andrews performed at the White House in 2012 and was invited back in May of 2014 when he was appointed a ‘Turnaround Artist’ of the President’s Turnaround Arts initiative, a program to assist low-performing schools through arts programs. But he always comes back home to New Orleans, the city he loves and that’s given him so much. “The city of New Orleans raised me,” he likes to say.
Today, he is passing down his knowledge to the next generation through the Trombone Shorty Foundation to ensure our precious musical culture stays strong and the power of music continues to change the lives of future New Orleans musicians.
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