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.”
Morning Glory (Intro)
Love In Your Heart
Second Line Girl
Masters Of War