NEW ORLEANS Rhythm and blues stars the Neville
Brothers plan to play their hometown of New Orleans next year
for the first time since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, raising
hopes that others may return to the ravaged city.
Organizers of the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
on Thursday said the Grammy-award winning group would close the
festival that showcases the music and culture of New Orleans
and Louisiana, as they had for years before the hurricane.
"There's been a hole in our soul without the Neville
Brothers in New Orleans," festival producer Quint Davis told a
news conference in the city's historic French Quarter.
"And I think (their return) is symbolic of some greater
return to New Orleans that a lot of people have not made."
In 2005 Hurricane Katrina dispersed the band and its
members' families as it did the much of New Orleans' citizens
as its floodwaters devastated the city.
The city remains at about two-thirds its pre-Katrina
population of 455,000.
Aaron Neville, who first hit the charts as a solo artist in
1966 with the song "Tell it Like it Is," lost his New Orleans
home to Katrina's floodwaters and has been living in Tennessee.
Cyril Neville is living in Austin, Texas, while Charles
Neville has lived in Massachusetts since before the storm.
The Jazz & Heritage Festival resumed eight months after the
storm, when the city was still largely unpopulated, drawing
about 300,000 people. This year the event brought 350,000
Louisiana native and country music star Tim McGraw is also
scheduled to perform at the 2008 festival, which takes place
April 25-27 and May 1-4.