The Soul Rebels

The New Orleans group the Soul Rebels, which combines elements of hip-hop with a traditional brass band sound, was formed by former drum majors from the marching bands of Southern, Grambling, and Texas Southern University.

Lumar LeBlanc (snare drum), Derrick Moss (bass drum), and Damion Francois (tuba) first played together as Young Olympia, the junior division of Milton Batiste's Olympia Brass Band. Joining Tannon Williams (trumpet), Winston Turner (trombone), and Marcus Hubbard (trumpet), they began playing on their own in 1991. (In addition to the six permanent members, the group was frequently augmented by guests Will Terry on tenor sax, DJ Ike Turna on turntables, Mike Woods on percussion, and Thaddeus Clark on electric piano.) In 1993, when they shared a stage with the Neville Brothers, Cyril Neville christened them, saying, "Hey, you're a brass band, but y'all got funk and soul. Y'all are like soul rebels."

The Soul Rebels released their first album, Let Your Mind Be Free, on Mardi Gras Records in 1994. No More Parades followed on Tuff City in 1998. (More Jams from No More Parades was a live remix of the album for DJs made without the band's approval or input.) Rebelution, their third album, followed in February 2005 on Barn Burner Music. The hardworking band (averaging about 250 shows per year) suffered an understandable setback that year when Hurricane Katrina devastated their hometown. Though its members were scattered across the Gulf region, they still managed not only to get back together to play shows from time to time, but also to release an album, 2006's Urban Legend. Following local releases like No Place Like Home: Live in New Orleans, which appeared in 2009, the band saw an increase in visibility, appearing in an episode of the New Orleans-themed HBO original series Treme, as well as the television broadcast of the parade before the 2010 Super Bowl (the year the Saints won the NFL championship game). Eventually, the Soul Rebels signed on with Rounder Records, which released their 2012 album, Unlock Your Mind. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

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