The Trombone Shorty Foundation is thrilled to partner with the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts for a songwriting competition! GRFA is expanding its Annual Scholarship Art Contest with the additional of its Inaugural Scholarship Songwriting Competition, providing a platform for both visual artists and songwriters across Louisiana to showcase their work. Songwriters will be able to submit their original song and lyrics for a chance to win! Celebrity judges (listed below) will choose winners using carefully curated criteria. In partnership with the Trombone Shorty Foundation, Rodrigue Foundation will award three new scholarships to young songwriters across Louisiana, along with additional professional development opportunities for the contest winners.
For visual artist George Rodrigue, music served as inspiration, a soundtrack and an outlet for his creativity. He was a lifelong fan of music; he used some of his favorite musicians as the subjects for, and inspirations behind several of his paintings, playfully used song lyrics as the titles of his works, and often listened to music as he painted. In 2007, when Rodrigue painted the “Rodrigue Steinway,” a 100-year-old Steinway piano, Rodrigue asked himself the question: “What does music look like?” The result was a series of swirling sound waves, combined with the iconic Blue Dog, creating a unique fusion of art and music.
Our celebrity judges are listed below. For more information or to find out how to submit your song, go to the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts website.
Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is a musician, producer, actor and philanthropist from New Orleans, Louisiana. He was born into a well-known New Orleans musical family in 1986. His grandfather, Jessie Hill, was a locally popular R&B recording artist. His older brother, James “12” Andrews, was a successful jazz trumpeter who was also an early mentor. Andrews began playing music at a very early age and was playing professionally at the age of five. He mastered trombone, trumpet, and drums, eventually choosing the trombone as his principal instrument and thus picking up his nickname. Andrews became a student at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts’ (NOCCA). In 2003 he was one of five young musicians chosen as the subject for a PBS television documentary, and also performed on the network’s nationally broadcast tribute to Louis Armstrong, directed by Wynton Marsalis. Since 2009, Andrews has toured the country and the globe with his own band, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. He’s appeared with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and shared a stage with internationally touring artists like Lenny Kravitz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Rolling Stones, U2, and many others.
Between the potency of his richly detailed songwriting, his intensely emotional, soulful vocals and his piercing, expert guitar work, New Orleans’ Anders Osborne is a true musical treasure. A powerful live performer, he has toured virtually non-stop, either with his own band, as a solo artist, or as a guest with bands from Toots and The Maytals, Stanton Moore, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, The Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh, Jackie Greene and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. He’s produced and played on critically acclaimed albums by Tab Benoit, Johnny Sansone and Mike Zito. Since his recording debut in 1989, Osborne has written virtually all of his own material and contributed memorable songs to a wide variety of artists. Two tunes co-written by Osborne appear on Keb Mo’s Grammy-winning 1999 release Slow Down. Country superstar Tim McGraw scored a #1 hit with Anders’ song Watch The Wind Blow By. Osborne’s compositions have been covered by artists as diverse as Brad Paisley, Tab Benoit, Jonny Lang, Edwin McCain, Sam Bush, Trombone Shorty and Aaron Neville and Kim Carnes. His songs have also appeared in multiple feature films.
Tank Ball (Tank & Bangas)
Tarriona “Tank” Ball is a founding member and lead vocalist of the band Tank and the Bangas. Ball first gained attention as a talented slam poet. She and the band signed a major-label contract with Verve after winning NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert” in 2017. Featuring a range of genres from classic soul and funk to hip-hop, reggae, and rock; the band is known for their highly energized live shows mixed with Tank’s spoken word, not to mention her fierce expression of fashion. The band has electrified audiences from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
New Orleans’ PJ Morton is a versatile keyboardist, songwriter, and producer known for his own pop and R&B albums, as well as his studio work for other performers. Emerging in the early 2000s, Morton gained early notice working with artists like Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, DeWayne Woods, and Musiq Soulchild before issuing his own albums, such as 2013’s Grammy nominated New Orleans and 2017’s Grammy-winning Gumbo. In 2010, he joined the L.A. based band Maroon 5 and contributed to many of the group’s albums. He also signed to Young Money and released the album “New Orleans” — featuring guest appearances from Stevie Wonder, Busta Rhymes, and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine — in May 2013. The album’s single “Only One” earned him a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Song. Morton eventually moved back to New Orleans, where he founded his own Morton Records label. In 2017, he returned with his fifth solo album, Gumbo, which included appearances by Pell, BJ the Chicago Kid, and the Hamiltones. Also included on the album was a cover of the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love,” which won the Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance.
David Shaw (Revivalists)
David Shaw is the lead vocalist for New Orleans based American rock band The Revivalists. The band formed in 2007 and gained traction over a 10 year period with their style of rock, R&B, soul, country, and funk. Their second album, City of Sound, appeared on the Billboard charts in the spring of 2014 upon its re-release from Wind-Up Records. Their breakout arrived a year later with the hit single “Wish I Knew You.” The Revivalists were named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of “10 Bands You Need to Know,” and in September 2016, their song “Wish I Knew You” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Alternative Songs chart, and in May 2017, the song reached No. 1 on the Alternative Songs chart. On September 11, the single was certified platinum by the RIAA. Their most recent single, “All My Friends”, from their 2018 album, Take Good Care, went to No.1 at Adult Alternative radio.
Possessing a smoky and striking alto singing voice, Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Lauren Daigle went to number one on the Billboard Christian chart with her first album, 2015’s How Can It Be. Having already drawn some comparisons to Adele, her more soulful follow-up, Look Up Child, was an even bigger hit, reaching number three on the Billboard 200. Growing up in Lafayette, Louisiana, Daigle was surrounded by gospel, zydeco, blues, and Cajun music. She began pursuing a degree in child and family studies at Louisiana State University, and while there, was asked by a local band to help with vocals on an EP. A demo of the EP made its way to the Centricity Music label, and they signed Daigle as a solo artist in 2013. Her five-song debut EP “How Can It Be” was released in late 2014 and landed on the Christian charts. In the spring of 2015, How Can It Be was expanded into a full-length LP and became both a critical and commercial success, crossing over to reach number 30 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and eventually going platinum. It was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2016 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album. In 2017 she contributed the single “Almost Human” to the soundtrack for Blade Runner 2049, and she received her second Grammy nomination, this time in the category of Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song for “Trust in You.” In 2018, Daigle became the first artist to reach #1 on 5 Christian charts simultaneously (albums, airplay, songs, streaming songs, and digital song sales). Early the following year, she collected Grammys for both “You Say” and Look Up Child (Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song and Album).
Ben Ellman (Galactic)
Ben Ellman is best known as the saxophonist and harmonica player in the New Orleans-based band Galactic. As a producer, Ben has had multiple Grammy nominations and has overseen Galactic’s recordings since 2007. Additionally, he has produced other New Orleans-based and national artists such as Trombone Shorty (Grammy nominated 2010 CD, Backatown), the Revivalists (Platinum selling album), Cha Wa (Grammy nominated album in 2018), The Soul Rebels, Big Freedia, as well as singer-songwriter Ryan Montbleau and rapper Lyrics Born.
Alex Ebert (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros)
Known for his highly melodic, folk- and psychedelia-inflected indie pop, Alex Ebert kept himself busy during the early 21st century, fronting the punkier Ima Robot for several years before adding his more famous second group, the nearly dozen-member Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, to his schedule in 2007. With both bands still active, Ebert released his first solo album, the self-recorded “Alexander,” in 2011. He went on to also find work in film and TV scoring, composing a blend of instrumental chamber pop and symphonic music for projects including the 2013 film All Is Lost, the crime drama “A Most Violent Year” and Showtime’s “I’m Dying Up Here.” Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros’s album “Here” climbed to number five on the Billboard200, also charting in France and Australia. The group’s self-titled third album followed in mid-2013 and hit the U.S. Top 15. Later the same year, Ebert’s soundtrack for the Robert Redford film “All Is Lost” was released, then won a Golden Globe for Best Score in 2014.
AJ Haynes (Seratones)
AJ Haynes is vocalist and guitarist for Shreveport, Louisiana band Seratones. Initially a favorite of the Louisiana club circuit, the band rose to national recognition after signing with Fat Possum Records in 2015 and releasing their debut album, “Get Gone,” in 2016. The band’s sophomore album, “Power,” was released on New West Records in 2019. The Seratones have been compared to bands such as Alabama Shakes, however, they add their own blues, swinging, soul-stirring unique twist to rock ‘n’ roll. Haynes’ cites influences such as Billie Holiday, Tom Waits, and Hank Williams.
Aaron Wilkinson (Honey Island Swamp Band)
Born into a musical family, Wilkinson picked up guitar from his father at age ten. Inspired by everything from the Beatles to Hendrix to heavy metal, he took an early interest in songwriting, and lead a succession of original bands as a youngster in Pensacola, FL. A passing interest in the electric bass became a full time profession when he moved to New Orleans at age 22 and co-founded the band idletime, which went on to sign with Louisiana Red Hot Records. Several years of touring and work as a bassist with New Orleans artists, including Theresa Andersson and Irene Sage, led Wilkinson to his continuing role as bassist for Eric Lindell and Company, whose major label debut, Change in the Weather, was released on Alligator Records in 2006. Marooned in San Francisco in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Wilkinson began swapping songs with Chirs Mulé, an old friend and the guitarist for the Eric Lindell Band. Reflecting a blossoming interest in classic country music and a firm foundation in delta blues, the songs provided an ideal opportunity for Wilkinson to showcase his developing skills as a mandolin player and vocalist, as well as a songwriter. Within weeks the two had a weekly gig at San Francisco’s Boom Boom Room, and the Honey Island Swamp Band was born.
A blues musician from Kansas City, Missouri, Samantha Fish impressed industry professionals as a teenager before scoring her first Billboard blues number one in her mid-twenties. Fish grew up in a musical family with a variety of genres, including a steady diet of classic rock radio. Her father played guitar and would sometimes jam with friends at the family house. Young Samantha started out as a drummer but switched to guitar at the age of 15. As a teen, she would sneak into local blues landmark the Knuckleheads Saloon to hear touring musicians, and began sitting in with them from time to time after she became legal at 18. She saw her first chart success with her sophomore LP, “Black Wind Howlin’.” It hit the Billboard Heatseekers chart and reached the Top Ten of the blues albums chart upon release in 2013. She followed it with “Wild at Heart” in 2015, which became a blues number one. In 2017, she returned with her fourth studio album, “Chills & Fever,” recorded in Detroit with members of the Detroit Cobras.
Soul singer and songwriter Erica Falls credits her unique vintage sound to her childhood growing up in New Orleans’ 9th Ward, where her parents introduced her to Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughn, and Whitney Houston. Whether on stage or in the studio, she channels a sassy, soulful tone that recalls an earlier era. Erica’s latest project re-released album 2018, HomeGrown, that she co-produced showcased her vocals, arranging, songwriting talent, and introduced her to a wider audience in the world of neo-soul. Through out her career, Erica has recorded and performed with icons including Grammy®-winner Allen Toussaint, Sting, No Doubt, Joe Sample, Dr. John, Jennifer Hudson, and John Fogerty, among others. In 2013, she was hand-picked by Lee Daniels to star in the lead singing role of the award-winning film Lee Daniels The Butler. Erica tours nationally with renowned New Orleans funk band Galactic, and will be releasing a new single early next year 2019.
Big Chief Juan Pardo
Big Chief Juan Pardo is a Mardi Gras Indian from New Orleans, a cultural force who proudly carries on one of the country’s most unique and soulful musical traditions. His recent production of the “Voices of the Nation” recording with other Mardi Gras Indians is an essential edition to the long and glorious history of Mardi Gras Indians that includes the Wild Magnolias, the Wild Tchoupitoulas, Golden Eagle, and 101 Runners recording. He appeared on stage with the Neville Family Experience at the 2017 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Gala and multiple appearances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest over the years. Dressed in his colorful Indian suit with its tall feathers, bright hues, and shiny beaded patches, he is a dynamic performer moving about the stage or street with a tambourine, commanding the band and singing improvised lyrics to the Mardi Gras Indian songs that have existed for centuries.
Reid has been active in the New Orleans music community for many years. As a musician, he is currently the guitarist with the New Orleans’ favorite party band, the Bucktown Allstars. He has played with numerous local bands and he led an award-winning jazz fusion ensemble, Entourage for 11 years from 1987-1998, playing clubs, festivals and special events throughout the Southeastern US. Reid has had his hands in numerous music industry efforts in the Crescent City. He spent 12 years at Loyola University’s College of Music, where he served as marketing communications manager, concert series producer, and instructor in their Music Industry Studies program. He served as vice-president of STR Digital Records, a New Orleans-based jazz & blues independent record label, which has released 25 CDs. Reid spent two years post-Katrina administering the MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund. He also serves the community as a founding board member of Sweet Home New Orleans. He currently works as the Gulf Coast member services representative of The Recording Academy (NARAS-GRAMMY organization).
Jim McCormick is a celebrated singer and songwriter. McCormick has celebrated two #1 songs on the Billboard country charts: Jason Aldean’s “Take A Little Ride,” which spent 3 weeks in the top position, and Brantley Gilbert’s “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do.” McCormick’s songs have also been recorded by Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw, Jamey Johnson, Randy Travis, Ronnie Milsap, Trace Adkins, Trisha Yearwood, Rodney Atkins, Julianne Hough, and many others. He has served as a board of governors’ vice president for the Recording Academy and on the board of the Nashville Songwriters Association International. McCormick is an adjunct faculty member in the Music Industry Studies program at Loyola University in New Orleans and has lectured on the craft and business of songwriting at Berkelee College of Music, Georgetown University, Vanderbilt University, Belmont University, and Tulane University, as well as at GrammyPro and NSAI events. He is a member of Nashville’s Leadership Music class of 2013 and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Georgetown University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry from the University of New Orleans.
Keyboardist, bandleader, singer, composer, and educator Jon Batiste is an adventurous, eclectic jazz-based musician. Since 2015, he has been the bandleader and musical director for CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and toured the globe with his own group. The nephew of New Orleans musical greats Lionel Batiste and Harold Battiste he is heralded as a brilliant pianist and organist featured on albums by artists ranging from Stevie Wonder to Harry Connick, Jr. to Trombone Shorty. Batiste has scored films and even earned a Grammy nomination for his take on “Saint James Infirmary” from his Hollywood Africans album. A native of Kenner, Louisiana, Batiste attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) and studied at the Juilliard School in New York.