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Vocal Workshops for Kids Expand to Three Campuses

Vocal Workshops for Kids Expand to Three Campuses

Collaboration with NORD expands to three campuses

Applications are now open for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s spring session of free singing classes for kids age 9 to 13. The classes will take place from mid-January to mid-April on weekday afternoons at New Orleans Recreation Development Commission centers in three neighborhoods.

The program began two years ago with classes at NORD’s St. Bernard Recreation Center in the Gentilly neighborhood. They expanded last year to include classes at NORD’s Behrman Park center in Algiers. This year, a third campus is being added – NORD’s Sanchez Multi-Service Center in the Lower 9th Ward.

As in the past, all classes will be taught by Tonya Boyd-Cannon, a singer and educator who is perhaps best known for having reached the Top 20 in Season 8 of the NBC TV show “The Voice.”

Classes at all three campuses will be from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The Behrman center classes will be on Tuesdays; classes at Sanchez will be on Wednesdays; and classes at the St. Bernard center will be on Thursdays.

Participation is free. Interested students (or their parents/guardians) should complete the application form here. They also will be required to audition.

The audition dates are:

Tuesday, Jan. 8: Behrman Recreation Center (2529 General Meyer Ave., New Orleans, LA 70114)
Wednesday, Jan. 9: Sanchez Multi-Service Center (1616 Caffin Ave., New Orleans, LA 70117)
Thursday, Jan. 10: St. Bernard Recreation Center (1500 Lafreniere St., New Orleans, LA 70122)

All auditions will start at 4:30 p.m.

Classes will begin Jan. 22, and will culminate with a public concert on April 13.

The program is open to students from throughout the greater New Orleans region. No prior experience is required, just a love of music.

The classes utilize a curriculum that Boyd-Cannon has developed called ARTcademics. Students receive instruction in: posture; breath control and breathing techniques; self-awareness and vocal register variations; ear-training; scales; and vocal repertoire.

The classes are part of an initiative to increase music education offerings in New Orleans. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation – the nonprofit that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell – already offers several programs at its facility in the Tremé neighborhood, the George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center.

By partnering with NORD, which has recreation centers in many neighborhoods, the Jazz & Heritage Foundation seeks to expand its music education initiatives to more locations.

“We have great music education programs at the Jazz & Heritage Center,” said Kathleen Turner, president of the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, which is underwriting the cost of the classes. “But we also know that travel logistics can make it hard for kids to get to our place. So we wanted to explore doing music education in other parts of the city, to make it easier for kids to participate.”

Tonya Boyd-Cannon, the daughter of a preacher, was born in Mississippi and moved to New Orleans around age 10. At Warren Easton Fundamental Senior High School, she played saxophone and sang in the choir and the female chorale. After graduation, she worked as a backing vocalist for Jean Knight, singing with her at Jazz Fest and elsewhere. Around 2002, she took a job at Orleans Parish Prison. She eventually became a deputy, and worked with the prison's male inmate choir, Voices of Thunder. She later founded a jailhouse choir for women.

She recorded her debut album of gospel/inspirational music, "Rise My Child," with trumpeter/producer Andrew Baham. Her other recordings include “Muzic Is Life” and “Beggin’ You Not to Go.”

From 2005 until recently, she, her husband, daughter and son have resided in Chalmette. In May 2018 they finally moved back to their home in the Lower 9th Ward, which was destroyed in the levee breaches that followed Hurricane Katrina.

When Tonya is not performing she still volunteers with the inmate choir at Orleans Parish Prison. She’s the director of the Rise My Child Foundation and the New Orleans Citywide Youth Choir. She is also the vocal director of the Uptown Music Theatre in New Orleans and the Downtown Kingston Music Theatre in Jamaica.

NORD provides safe, wholesome, educational, recreational and culturally engaging opportunities to the residents of New Orleans. For more information about NORD, visit


The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation is 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 on what the Foundation does, please visit

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