Crossing a New Orleans brass band with a Mardi Gras Indian outfit, Cha Wa exude the energy of the city’s street culture.
They’ve been described as “a grand gumbo of singing, intoxicating rhythms, and deep funk grooves that are impossible to resist.” My People, the band’s followup to their Grammy-nominated album Spyboy, feels like pure joy, a distillation of generations of New Orleans expression.
But it also never fails to remind us how hard-won that joy was and still is — not least in the tense, funky and explosive title track’s declaration, “My people, we’re still here.”
“Mardi Gras Indian songs are inherently songs about freedom,” says the band’s drummer, Joe Gelini. “And that struggle is as relevant today as it’s ever been.”
Cha Wa joined us in the Gumbo Kitchen for a conversation.