Musicians Wanted for 'New' New Orleans Neighborhood

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Soon, in a drowned Ninth Ward New Orleans neighborhood, construction noise will be replaced by the sweet sounds of New Orleans jazz as some high-profile musicians work to bring artists back to the area.

More than 7,000 musicians lived here before they were forced from their homes by Hurricane Katrina. Singer Margie Perez was flooded out of her garden-level apartment. "We need musicians to come back, to bring that life back to the city," she said.

Aaron Neville of the Neville Brothers, whose members come from one of New Orleans' most prominent musical families, lost his home too. He has spent the past year headlining at least 10 major benefits for Katrina victims and has raised tens of millions of dollars.

"The music can't die, the music lives on," Neville said.

He can't come back to live in New Orleans because of his asthma. His doctor recommends that he stay away because of the pollution left behind by Katrina and the dust that's emerging from the rebuilding construction.

But Neville is working to make it possible for other musicians to come back by helping Habitat for Humanity rebuild neighborhoods.

Members of the Marsalis family, another musical dynasty in New Orleans, are helping to build a special area in the Ninth Ward just for musicians displaced by the hurricane.

Jazz performer Branford Marsalis has made public service announcements on national television, asking for donations for a project called Musicians Village.

New Homes for Music

For those voicing concerns that no reconstruction has gone on here in the past year, Musicians Village is a sign that progess is being made in the Ninth Ward.

ABC News found a few blocks with 33 new colorful houses, with an additional 75 scheduled for completion by next year, and each will be filled with music.

Perez will live at Musicians Village and expects to move into her new three-bedroom house next month, on a "rainbow" street designed to sound as good as it looks.

And she anticipates her house will come with an additional benefit.

"I will have musicians as neighbors, [so] no one is going to tell me to turn the music down," Perez said.

The musicians are getting help, qualifying for no-interest mortgages of $75,000, and in return, will contribute 300 hours of sweat equity, building their houses and those of their neighbors.

Wynton Marsalis is also playing concerts to help Katrina survivors and believes the construction of Musicians Village will help heal the soul of New Orleans.

"They want to create a place for musicians to have a chance to prosper and flourish and get back home and begin to practice their craft with an emphasis on the arts," Marsalis said.

That effort will give artists like Margie Perez a place to live, rehearse and sing in a New Orleans built on the talent and strength of musical hands and voices.

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