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Katrina Makes Marva Wright Sing the Blues

Marva Wright calls herself "The Blues Queen of New Orleans."
Marva Wright calls herself "The Blues Queen of New Orleans."

Marva Wright calls herself "The Blues Queen of New Orleans," and she's got plenty to be blue about. Hurricane Katrina wrecked her house, she lost everything she owned, and her hometown was a mess. Wright, who fled the city the day before the storm struck, considered never returning. But in the end, New Orleans pulled her back.

Wright says that she's still so distraught that she can't write songs about what happened, but she sure can sing about it. Her up-and-down relationship with the devastated Big Easy seeps into every track on her new album, After the Levees Broke — even the love songs. When she wraps her raw and gritty voice around "You Are My Sunshine," it's abundantly clear that she's not talking about a guy who makes her happy when skies are gray. She's talking about a city.

Her bittersweet cover exudes Crescent City spirit. Horns pump out a jaunty staccato line that conjures up a street parade. Beloved local pianist Davell Crawford adds plenty of bluesy licks, with a little gospel flavor tossed in for a sanctified undercurrent. A honking sax adds a pinch of old-school R&B. All the while, the queen's regal delivery puts Mother Nature on notice: Don't you dare take her sunshine away.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.