Cha Wa

My People

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GRAMMY-nominated band Cha Wa will return on April 2 with My People, a new collection that draws from the rich and vibrant street culture of New Orleans. Arriving via the renowned southern independent label Single Lock Records, My People exuberantly infuses contemporary sounds with the music of street parades and the Mardi Gras Indian community a group of Black New Orleanians who pay respect to Native American tribes their wardrobe, music and dialect. Packed with a vivid assemblage of New Orleans sounds and stories, this collection of new original songs draws from the grooves of ‘70s New Orleans funk bands like The Meters (particularly on offerings like “Wildman” and “Bow Down”) and takes clear influence from the city's history of Brass band music, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, rock, soul and African-inspired arrangements (including a chilling cover of Bob Dylan’s “Masters Of War” in this style).

Cha Wa was formed by bandleader Joe Gelini shortly before the release of the group’s 2018 debut album Spyboy, which was recognized with a Best Regional Roots Album nomination at the GRAMMYs that year. A student of the legendary New Orleans drummer Idris Muhammad, Gelini was taken by the city’s street culture along with the sounds of the Mardi Gras Indians and began to immerse himself in that world after moving to the area. Working with vocalist Joseph Boudreaux Jr, a lifelong member of those New Orleans musical circles, and many of the top musicians from the city's Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs and Second Line brass bands, Cha Wa quickly became a staple of that street culture before bringing their spin on Mardi Gras Indian music to the GRAMMYs and around the world. With roots dating back to the 19th century, Mardi Gras Indians are most commonly associated with internationally-known New Orleans celebrations like Fat Tuesday, but the tradition is said to have started as a way for the city’s Black community to express gratitude to Native Americans for giving shelter to New Orleanians fleeing enslavement. In more recent years, Mardi Gras Indians have displayed their role as community leaders with front line responses to both Hurricane Katrina and the unlawful NOPD conduct that resulted in investigations by the Obama administration.

“Mardi Gras Indian songs are inherently songs about freedom,” Gelini says. “That struggle is as relevant today as it’s ever been.”

TRACK LISTING

My People
Wildman
Bow Down
Morning Glory (Intro)
Morning Glory
Uptown
Firewater
Love In Your Heart
Second Line Girl
Masters Of War
Shallow Water

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