Title: My People Artist: Cha Wa Label: Single Lock Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release Date: April 2, 2021
Since the late 19th century, Mardi Gras Indians have
paraded the streets of New Orleans outside of the gaze of tourists that flock
to Bourbon Street. The Mardi Gras Indian community is a group of primarily
Black New Orleanians who pay respect to Native Americans through their wardrobe,
music, and dialect. The tradition of Mardi Gras Indian krewes is said to have originated
to pay tribute to the Native groups that sheltered Black New Orleanians fleeing
enslavement. Drawing on this rich heritage, Cha Wa’s
My People captures the sounds of Mardi Gras Indian street parades and
blends them with other New Orleans influences including the ‘70s era funk of
The Meters, brass band music, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and African-inspired rhythms.
It is nearly impossible to listen to New Orleans band Cha Wa without dancing. After years playing in the Crescent City, the Mardi Gras/funk band is releasing their first full length album Funk ‘n’ Feathers. Their funk sensibility and background in Mardi Gras Indian music make every song full of life, whether fueled by Latin beats, joyful unison choruses, or a soaring trumpet.
The album includes many classic Mardi Gras Indian songs, such as “Li’l Liza Jane,” “Jock-A-Mo” (later famously covered as “Iko Iko”), and a cover of Dr. John’s “All on a Mardi Gras Day.” There are also more hardcore funk songs such as the rocking “Shallow Water” and “UPT,” which features organ and wailing electric guitar. Most songs, though, are a thoroughly-blended scoop of New Orleans’s musical gumbo, as evidenced in the video for “Ooh Na Nay”:
Cha Wa transforms its vast musical experience and unending catalog of songs into a ten track album that is immensely enjoyable and full of the spirit of Mardi Gras funk.