Cyril Neville says no to N'awlins: "Entertainment Archive
Cyril Neville says no to N'awlins
December 15, 2005
BY DAVE HOEKSTRA Staff Reporter
During a heartfelt conversation before embarking on the train journey, Neville explained he and his wife, Gaynielle, have bought a home in Austin, Texas..
'Would I go back to live?' Neville asked. 'There's nothing there. And the situation for musicians was a joke. People thought there was a New Orleans music scene -- there wasn't. You worked two times a year: Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest. The only musicians I knew who made a living playing music in New Orleans were Kermit Ruffins and Pete Fountain. Everyone else had to have a day job or go on tour. I have worked more in two months in Austin than I worked in two years in New Orleans..........................
'I am not a fish,' he said. 'I cannot live under 6 feet of water. In the 9th Ward and Gentilly they are going to do mass buyouts, bulldoze everything and make it green space. In my estimation, those are golf courses and other places where African-American people won't be welcome. There's nothing wrong with my house except that water destroyed everything we had in it. The foundation is fine. The house is still there. Same thing with our neighbors. So what are they talking bulldozing?".....................
"People are talking to me, but some of the people I know went through much more than I did. There are 3,000 children missing in New Orleans. [The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children places the figure at 1,300.] Hundreds of bodies are waiting to be identified. The people of New Orleans have been scattered to the four winds. Their lives were determined by people in Washington and Baton Rouge before the storm hit. Without African Americans having ownership, economic equity and the same type of things the French Quarter gets -- like tax cuts -- the city will never be the same. The 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Wards should have their own tourist commission. Build our own hotels and restaurants in those areas. The key is ownership. Then I would think about going back and living there. But we're still practicing American democracy. How can we ever bring it to somebody else?"
It is a good read. He is currently on tour with Arlo Guthrie. A twelve day Amtrack journey from Chicago to New Orleans, to raise money for Katrina victims.