NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - 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 attendees.
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.