New Orleans long ago earned its literary and musical stripes. But those who think the tradition-bound city is resting on its cultural laurels need only consider a couple of emerging talents who have rocketed to the head of their respective classes.
Wednesday, New Orleans native Sarah M. Broom’s debut memoir, “The Yellow House,” took home one of the publishing world’s highest honors, the National Book Award for nonfiction. Broom’s book chronicles her childhood in New Orleans East and delves into her family’s history in the often-overlooked neighborhood, including during and after Hurricane Katrina.
She beat out a field that only emphasized the region’s literary heft. Another finalist in the category was "Solitary: My Journey of Transformation and Hope," Albert Woodfox’s memoir of his 40 years in solitary confinement at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Shreveport native and former New Orleans resident Jericho Brown got a National Book Award nomination for his poetry book, "The Tradition."
Also Wednesday came word that Tank and the Bangas, the New Orleans funk, soul, hip-hop and spoken-word band, was named a finalist for a Grammy in one of the awards’ highest-profile categories, best new artist. The group faces a daunting field of more famous competitors, including Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and Lil Nas X. Louisiana will be pulling for them when the iconic gilded gramophones are handed out Jan. 26, but for now, it’s a very big deal to be nominated.
Both Broom and Tank and the Bangas have been turning heads and racking up impressive reviews for a while now, but these new honors will surely introduce them to whole lot of new fans. Lucky them.
And lucky us, for having known these rising stars back when.