Front Row: Voodoo Fest

Last month’s Voodoo Fest in New Orleans featured a special House of Blues tent, with a mural of stars adorning the canopy above creating a dreamy, galactic atmosphere. The tent included its own stage that showcased stellar local talent, including featuring a Music Forward alumni artist on each day of the festival! Music Forward alumni Blue Crab Redemption rocked on Friday, Jake Exavier grooved on Saturday, and Caitlyn Harris jammed on Sunday.

Voodoo Fest is a wildly popular music festival that draws over 150,000 music fans to New Orleans each October to see a variety of big-name headliners across a variety of genres. 2019 headliners included Guns N’ Roses, Post Malone, Beck, and many more, so for Music Forward alumni to share the performance experience at the festival is impressive. Caitlyn Harris, a Music Forward 2015 alumna, shared her memorable adventure with us:

It was just a normal day when I got a message from Music Forward Program Coordinator, Ms. Robin Martin inviting me to perform at this year’s Voodoo Fest.  I eagerly accepted and asked what I needed to do to make it happen. 

Two weeks before the performance, the songs I ended up performing hadn’t been written yet. Balancing school and music is hard, and I live an hour and a half away from my band, so I had to strategically manage all the time that I had. Twelve days before we took the stage, my guitarist, Lungi, and I locked ourselves in his apartment and wrote 3 incredible songs called ‘Heatstroke’, ‘Down4Me’ and ‘Over It.’ We started rehearsing with the band just a week before we performed, and with our hard work, determination, and a little luck, everything flowed just right. 

Performing on the stage inside the House of Blues tent at Voodoo Fest was an atmospheric and unforgettable experience, and it will forever remain special in my heart. The crowd was tremendously receptive, the tent was absolutely beautiful, and all the right vibes were there to make it a special day. I even saw some people in the audience singing along to some of the choruses, which was super special for me to experience. Since then, the performance has boosted my self-confidence and has also done wonders for the little voice in the back of my head that sometimes tells me that I cannot accomplish my goals. I have a newfound appreciation for Music Forward and am so thankful for the platform that they’ve given me. 

The Voodoo Fest performance experience was a milestone in Caitlyn’s musical career. The skills she flexed to prepare, her creative process along the way, and the confidence to take the stage will empower her to continue her journey in the music industry and sparkle as bright as the stars dancing above the stage.

We are grateful for the support of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation that has helped us to sustain the artist development pathway in New Orleans as young, talented emerging musicians come together and connect with music industry mentors to build their network and hone their craft.

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