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2018 Class Got Brass Winners

2018 Class Got Brass Winners


Landry-Walker High School of the Algiers neighborhood and Park Forest Middle School of Baton Rouge took top honors at the seventh annual Class Got Brass competition for brass bands, sponsored by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation in Armstrong Park on March 4.

Landry-Walker won in the advanced category and earned the top prize of $10,000 worth of instruments for the school’s music programs. Park Forest was first in the beginner category, winning $5,000 in instruments for the school.

Both schools took first place in their respective categories in the 2017 competition as well.

Four schools competed in the advanced category, in which the top prizes are $10,000, $7,000 and $5,000 for first, second and third. There were 11 competing in the beginners group for awards of $5,000, $4,000 and $3,000 for the top three. All participating schools receive a stipend of at least $750 worth of instruments. In all, Class Got Brass provides more than $40,000 to support music education.

The Class Got Brass contest is put on by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell. The competition was started in 2012 to support arts education programs in the schools while promoting traditional New Orleans culture.

The contest takes the form of a second-line parade, with school bands performing for a panel of judges who are among the most noted musicians and culture bearers in New Orleans. All participants are required to form a New Orleans-style brass band, with instrumentation and dress that models the tradition. To honor the iconic New Orleans jazz funeral, each band is required to perform a dirge plus two up-tempo songs from the classic repertoire.

The backdrop for the Class Got Brass event is the Congo Square Rhythms Festival in Armstrong Park, one of our free festivals put on by the Jazz & Heritage Foundation. The 2018 contest took place before a large audience and under sunny skies toward the culmination of the two-day festival of music and dance.

ReNew Dolores T. Aaron Academy’s brass band performed at Class Got Brass but was not part of the competition. The school’s band did not meet the contest’s criteria because it included two adult members. The group will travel to Washington, D.C. to perform at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on March 11 as part of a national event, the Turnaround Arts Talent Show.

The complete results of the 2018 Class Got Brass are:

First Place: Landry-Walker High School, $10,000 (band director: Wilbert Rawlins)
Second Place: KIPP Morial Middle School (formerly KIPP McDonogh 15), $7,000 (band director: Kelvin Harrison)
Third Place: Edna Karr High School, $5,000 (band director: Chris Herrero)
McKinley Senior High School, $750 (band director: Frank Williams)
George Washington Carver High School, $750 (band director: Jeffery Herbert)

First Place: Park Forest Middle School, Baton Rouge, LA, $5,000 (band director: Doretha Williams)
Second Place: Renew Cultural Arts Academy, $4,000 (band director: Brandon Kelley)
Third Place: Young Audiences Charter School, $3,000 (band director: Matt Bruzzi)
Harry S. Truman Middle School, $750 (band director: Joe Franklin)
St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory Academy, $750 (band director: Lester Singleton)
Riverdale High School, $750 (band director: Desmond Venable)
Democracy Preparatory School, $750 (band director: Karron Brown)
L.W. Higgins High School, $750 (band director: Justin Rush)
Lincoln Elementary School for the Arts, $750 (band director: Carlyn Glenn)
Marrero Middle School, $750 (band director: Jeremy Williams)
Midlred Osborne Charter School, $750 (band director: Thomas Grant)

Dolores T. Aaron (band director: Andy Bower)

2018 Judges:
Gregory Davis, Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Brice Miller, Mahogany Brass Band
Joe Lastie, Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Brandon Odums, visual artist
Derrick Freeman, SOUL Brass Band
Christie Jourdain, Pinettes Brass Band
Veronique Dorsey, Pinettes Brass Band
Michael White, Liberty Jazz Band
Donald Harrison, saxophonist
Kerry Brown, drummer
Sammie Williams, Big Sam’s Funky Nation
Leroy Jones, trumpeter

For winners and competitors in prior editions of Class Got Brass, please see

Class Got Brass is an educational program of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell. The Foundation uses the proceeds from Jazz Fest, and other raised funds, for year-round programs in education, economic development and cultural enrichment. For more information, please see

Photo by Eric Simon

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.