Landfall

Landfall, by Ellen UrbaniRosebud Howard almost survives. She charges through the Lower Ninth Ward, beating the wall of floodwater by a half-block. She clambers out of an attic, onto a roof, into a rowboat. But her grueling trek to Tuscaloosa, in search of help for her family, ends when she’s hit and killed by a car laden with supplies for Hurricane Katrina victims. Passenger Rose Aikens, orphaned by the crash, climbs away from the wreck after lacing the dead girl’s sneakers onto her own feet. When she discovers they share not only shoes but a name and a birth year, Rose embarks upon a guilt-assuaging odyssey to retrace Rosebud’s last steps and locate her remaining kin. The stories and destinies of these two teenagers—one black, one white—converge in Landfall, giving voice to the dead and demonstrating how strangers, with perseverance and forgiveness, can unite to reconstruct each other’s shattered family histories.

Landfall won the 2016 Maria Thomas Fiction Award from Peace Corps Writers, was named a 2015/16 Great Group Reads by the Women’s National Book Association, and was named Book of the Year in Lunel, France.


Praise for Landfall
Read an Excerpt
FAQ/Q&A
Author Interview
Reader’s Guide
Book Club Extras
→ Order Southern Food & Drinks
→ Recipes
→ Music Playlists
Donate to Reconstruction Efforts


Praise for Landfall

“You can write your ass off, Southern girl! With her new novel Landfall, Ellen Urbani enters the world of American fiction with a bang and a flourish. She brings back the terrible Hurricane Katrina that tore some of the heart out of the matchless city of New Orleans, but did not lay a finger on its soul. It is the story of people caught in that storm and the lives both ruined and glorified in its passage. Her description of the flooding of the Ninth Ward is Faulknerian in its power. It’s a hell of a book and worthy of the storm and times it describes.”

Pat Conroy, international bestselling author of The Prince of Tides

“Ellen Urbani has written an amazing and original piece of literature. If you love family sagas characterized by women holding the generations together via a magical combination of grit and grace, such as Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits, you will love this haunting book!”

Fannie Flagg, international bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

“A gorgeous and raw rendering of a young woman’s struggle for redemption, for forgiveness, for salvation, in the aftermath of the devastating catastrophe of Katrina. Landfall is not about a storm; it is about the resiliency of the human spirit, and our ongoing need to make sense of the world around us, no matter the cost.  Urbani has crafted a powerful novel that will resonate in your soul long after you have turned the final page.  Outstanding!”

Garth Stein, international bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

“Landfall is a poignant, provocative, and utterly compelling story of two fatherless girls forced into adulthood too soon. Ellen Urbani has accomplished the nearly impossible: creating a fictional world so real you’ll revel in its beauty and flinch from its pain. I could not put this book down. And the ending is worth every page that precedes it.”

– Hope Edelman, international bestselling author of Motherless Daughters

“A deeply soulful novel set during the chaos of Hurricane Katrina and the long, moody ebb of its aftermath, Landfall recalls Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God for the strength of the women in its pages, and their resilience despite immeasurable loss. Urbani knows it’s only love that truly overcomes catastrophe, that even as we search for the answer to that most elusive question—Why?—everything in our lives can always change in an instant, sometimes even for the better.”

Tony D’Souza, author of Mule

“Ellen Urbani’s story of Katrina and its aftermath is an important part of America’s modern mythology, a chronicle of one of our greatest national trials. But Urbani’s characters reach beyond mythology: two rich and complex young women, two troubled and heartbreaking older women, whose separate journeys and literal collision are unique yet timeless. Landfall is a mirror in the floodwaters, showing us our own distorted faces in the murk and mayhem of our recent past.”

– Samuel Snoek-Brown, author of Hagridden

“From the first sentence, I was drawn into  the intricately wrought emotional lives of Urbani’s nuanced characters and didn’t put the book down until I’d found my way to the end. This novel is as delightful and compelling as it is necessary, broadening the cultural conversation around community, love, loss and inequity. It’s about making human connections, particularly during times of grief.  Landfall, like the best literature, delivers an expansive, rich sense of humanity.”

Monica Drake, author of The Stud Book

“Reading Ellen Urbani’s writing is like reading a painting, or a song. It’s that colorful and alive. Urbani sweeps you up into her world and carries you through this gripping story about two young women affected by similar tragedies. “

Kerry Cohen, author of Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity

“Urbani’s lyrical voice tells a story that reminds us to look for hope when we’re in the midst of tragedy, for connection when we feel lost. And when we do, life just might surprise us. Powerfully told, this story will stay with you long after you’ve read the final page.”

– Ali McCart, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Event Coordinator

“I think Landfall is quite amazing. At first I wasn’t sure if it would come off as regional, being set in Alabama and Louisiana pre-and-post Katrina, but no. This is one of the best Mother-Daughter books ever and there are two sets of women Urbani deftly deals with and brings together in an unexpected way. This book could have fallen into maudlin territory but she never lets that happen. I grew to love all the characters and she does an unflinching job of bringing the chaos, terror and sadness of Katrina to life in a way so primal and so removed from what we saw on the news. She is a seriously good writer. I read her first book, a memoir, When I Was Elena, years ago and thought it was excellent and moving. She has now more than proven her worth in the genre of fiction.”

– Cindy Heidemann, field sales for Legato Publisher’s Group

“ I absolutely loved Landfall and rank it as one of the best books I have read in years.”

– Mark Suchomel, President, Client Services, Perseus Books Group

 

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Excerpt

Chapter 8

Superstition, as indigenous to Louisiana as gators and Tabasco, holds that the spirits of the dead avenge any disruption of their bodies, which makes one wonder at the rancor released on the 1957 day when fifty-five white families re-interred their beloved in Hope Mausoleum after the Rt. Rev. Girault M. Jones, Bishop of Louisiana, deconsecrated the Girod Street Cemetery, condemning every last African American bone to anonymity in a mass grave in Providence Memorial Park. From that pogrom grew the Superdome. Thirteen acres of structural steel framing stretch up 273 feet from the unholy ground, a towering testament to the American propensity to cheer black men into end zones and desert them entirely six points later. Ghosts do not so easily forsake their heirs. It is said the Superdome was cursed from the start. Take as evidence the quadrupled construction costs and delays; the Saints’ dismal record; the roof, meant to withstand 200-mile-per-hour winds, which peeled back in response to Katrina’s 145-mile-per-hour gusts. To say nothing of the six dead bodies left behind when the refugees finally escaped her walls.

Which is why it cannot be said that Cilla and Rosy sought shelter at the Superdome. By the time they arrived there, shelter had long since ceased to be offered.

Their rowboat sluiced easily through the downtown streets, waterlogged to a depth of three feet, enabling the makeshift gondoliers to deliver mother and daughter directly to the raised walkway surrounding the stadium in the late afternoon hours of Wednesday, August 31. Cilla stumbled from the boat, holding her head, crying. She moved as if the sludge surrounding them had settled in her soles, though Rosy expected the mania to envelop them anew when the headache passed. She needed to get them inside and isolated, way up in the nosebleed section where no one might notice them, before it happened.

Thirty thousand people stood in their way…

Download Full Excerpt (pdf)

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FAQ/Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: It’s been said that you have experience as a disaster-relief psychiatric specialist. Did you go to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina?

Ellen: When Katrina hit, in August of 2005, I had a 23-month-old toddler and a nursing newborn, rendering me utterly unfit for service. Instead, I stayed home to take care of the children while my then-husband, a paramedic, went instead. In that way, I vicariously experienced the devastation, as I heard his stories daily. Of all his stories, I remember most vividly his description of driving down a road, somewhere in Louisiana or Mississippi — I can’t remember where, exactly — that was littered with dead alligators for miles on end. That image haunts me still.

Q: What was your writing process like? As in: did you write daily, or at specific times, or fit it in between other things?

Ellen: When I began writing Landfall — almost two years to the day after Katrina hit — I was, by then, a single parent to a toddler and a small child. Book-writing and child-rearing are both consumptive processes, but my children always took priority. So the writing of the book didn’t truly commence until they entered preschool: I wrote Landfall on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9 and 11am, during their school hours, which was the only time I was fully alone and, in that way, able to think. At night, after they went to sleep and before I succumbed to slumber myself, I’d do research. Sometimes, if I could manage it, I’d get up in the wee hours to write before they awoke, but more often that time was filled with bill-paying and grocery-list making and the other mundane but requisite day-to-day household management tasks. However, Landfall was always percolating in my mind, all day every day. Because I couldn’t stop pushing a swing to write, or abandon a baby on a changing table if an idea struck, I carried tiny PostIt pads and a pen with me everywhere — I had one in the car, one in a pocket in the jog stroller, one in the diaper bag, one in every room of the house — so that I could jot down ideas or key words/phrases to later jump-start my memory when I could settle in front of the computer. To say that I lived my life via a series of PostIt notes during those years would be unnervingly accurate. Colorful squares of paper littered everything I touched for two years.

Q: There’s a lot of nonfiction in this novel, in relation to the disaster. Are there other parts that are true, too? Is any of it autobiographical?

Ellen: Yes and no. There is much of me in both of the girls I wrote about; I feel like I unpackaged pieces of myself into Rose and Rosy equally. In many ways, Rose is mostly my head — her intellectualism, her stubbornness, her quick-tempered rationalizations didn’t materialize from nowhere. Rosy, on the other hand, is more my heart. It is her to whom I gifted my sense of loyalty, my yearning, my empathy. They embody diverse aspects of my own self, though they grew far beyond me as well, each becoming her own person as I wrote her to life.

Q: Where did the title come from?

Ellen: Laura Stanfill, the publisher at Forest Avenue Press, came up with it. I had two different working titles, but neither ever resonated with me, and retitling the book was a top priority for both of us. For days after she acquired the book, but before we announced the acquisition, we emailed each other long lists of potential titles, which neither of us was crazy about. I kept saying I’d know when we hit on it, but everything fell flat. As it was, this brainstorming all took place during hurricane season. Laura was listening to a radio report as she worked, when a newscaster predicted that a Hawaiian hurricane would make landfall later that day, and she immediately reached for the phone. “Landfall!” she said. And there it was; I knew it. My children, by then nine and ten, were in the room, and when I hung up they asked, “Why do you keep saying ‘landfall’? What does landfall mean?” I explained to them that it is the moment when all the forces of a storm that had previously been swirling separately meet, to life-changing effect: the sea, the land, and the wind all collide. It is the moment when havoc is wrecked, and the moment in time to which survivors typically point in describing how their lives altered in ways that can never be reversed. “But it is also the catalyst from which good things come,” I said. “After the grief and the loss following the landfall, there is rebuilding, reconnection, regeneration.” I can think of no better way to summarize the themes at the heart of Landfall.


Q&A

Contact Ellen, ask a question, and watch for your answer on this website!

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Author Interview

Coming Soon!


Reader’s Guide

Download and print this reader’s guide, to share with your fellow book-groupies.

Landfall Questions for Discussion

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Extras

Order Southern Food/Drinks

Feel like ordering in? These gems will deliver, from afar:

  • Alabama’s Dreamland Bar-B-Que is best known for their ribs. Better to eat them while tailgating at Bryant Denny Stadium in anticipation of a Bama win, but your dining room will do in a pinch. Dreamland Bar-B-Que Online Shop
  • Café du Monde’s original coffee stand still operates from Decatur Street in New Orleans French Market, but if you can’t make it there they’ll ship their mixes to you, so that with the addition of a bit of water you can pass yourself off as a tried and true Louisiana pastry chef. Choose from Mardi Gras King Cakes or their quintessential specialty: beignets. Don’t forget to get some chicory coffee to wash it down with. Café Du Monde’s Online Café
  • Who wants to read about a hurricane without a Hurricane in hand? Pat O’Brien’s signature drink mix, the Hurricane, famous the world over, will surely spike some fun, and they’ll even send you the proper glasses in which to serve your libations. Pat O’Brien’s Gift Shop

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Recipes

Break out your wooden spoon and roux pots, and get to cooking!

Katie Urbani’s (Ellen’s mom’s!) Praline Pecans

Ingredients

4 cups pecans
2 egg whites
1 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
¼ cup butter

Beat egg whites, sugar, vanilla and salt. Pour nuts into beaten egg white mixture. Melt butter in oven directly onto a cookie sheet with edges/lip. Pour nuts onto cookie sheet and spread out evenly. Cook in oven at 300 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes so they cook evenly. Check constantly as these burn quickly, so don’t leave the kitchen while cooking (“not even to pee!”) admonishes Ellen’s mother.


Gumbo

Note from Ellen: A conversation about gumbo ingredients is as contentious as a fight about religion and politics; everyone’s got an opinion, and they’re sure theirs is right. So let’s be clear about something right from the outset: there’s no such thing as a roux gumbo versus a filé gumbo, so all y’all Creole crazies can stop pointing your steak knives at each others’ throats over this. Every damn gumbo good enough to shuck an oyster for starts with a chocolaty roux – and for pure entertainment value, march yourself right on over to First You Start with a Roux  to learn how to stir one up. What you need to decide is whether to use okra or filé powder (the spicy ground-up leaves of the sassafras tree) or both as a thickening and flavor agent. If you’re the sort who doesn’t mind using a bag of frozen greens out of season, by all means reach for the okra. But for those of us who still have the God-given good manners not to wear white after Labor Day or buy our produce pre-sealed in plastic, that fresh-from-the-garden okra window is short and filé powder is where it’s at. As for whether you put it in the pot or put it on the table is of no matter; one way or the other, if you want it in there the filé powder’s getting tossed in at the end. Which brings us to only one question. Are you going to be a purist and eat your gumbo over rice with nothing but bread – in which case, for the love of all that is holy, make a choice: seafood or meat (poultry/squirrel/gator) but never both; sausage doesn’t count as meat and don’t you dare ask why – or are you going to make like an Acadian and serve that gumbo with potato salad on the side?

Mrs. Elie’s Best. Gumbo. Ever.
(as appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, June 2012)

As transcribed for us by her son, Lolis Eric Elie, whose memories of making gumbo at her knee are worth reading about here: Smithsonian Magazine.

Ingredients 

5 quarts water
1 dozen fresh crabs, raw, boiled or steamed
2 pounds medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined (reserve the shells and heads to make seafood stock)
2 pounds smoked sausage, cut into 1 inch rounds (1 pound each of two different sausages is optimal)
3/4 pound Creole hot sausage (if available), cut into 1 inch rounds
2 pounds okra cut into rounds
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
6 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
1 bunch green onions, tops and bottoms, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 pound crab meat, picked and cleaned of shells and cartilage
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
4 bay leaves
4 tablespoons filé powder
Salt and pepper to taste
6 cups steamed white rice

Clean the crabs, removing the lungs, heart and glands and other parts so that only the pieces of shell containing meat (including the legs, swimmers and claws) remain. Refrigerate the meaty parts of the crabs. Put the portions of the crabs that have been removed into a 6- or 8-quart stockpot. Add the shrimp heads and shells and 5 quarts water to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Cook the sausages in a skillet in batches over medium heat, turning occasionally, until the pieces are slightly brown and much of the fat has been rendered. Remove the sausage and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Discard the excess fat remaining in the skillet before cooking the next batch of sausage.

Once all the sausage has been cooked, wipe the excess oil from the skillet, being careful not to scrub away those bits of sausage that have stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Add the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Heat the oil over medium heat and then add the okra. Lower the heat to medium and cook the okra until it is slightly brown and dried, stirring frequently, about 45 minutes.

While the okra cooks, place the 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a 12-quart stockpot. (Note from Ellen: Oil is for … how to put this nicely? … the spineless. Man up. Use lard.) Heat the oil lard over medium heat. Once the oil lard is hot, a tablespoon at a time slowly add the 1/2 cup flour to prepare the roux, stirring constantly. Once all the flour has been added, continue heating and stirring the roux until it becomes a medium brown color, somewhere between the color of caramel and milk chocolate, about 10-15 minutes. Add the onions to the roux, stirring constantly. Once the onions are wilted, add the garlic, parsley, celery, green onions and bell pepper. Strain the seafood stock into the large stockpot. Add the browned sausage and bay leaves and bring everything to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook.

Once the okra is cooked, add it to the gumbo pot. Continue cooking the gumbo for 60 minutes. Add the reserved crabs and shrimp and cook for 15 minutes longer. Remove the gumbo from the heat and stir in the Creole seasoning and filé powder. Let the gumbo rest for 15 to 20 minutes. As it cools, oil should form on the top. Skim the oil with a ladle or large spoon and discard.  Stir in the picked crab meat. Taste the gumbo and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve the gumbo ladled over steamed rice.

In case of leftovers, gumbo freezes well. But if you cook it right, you won’t have to worry about leftovers.


Jerry’s Jambalaya (as served at Mother’s Restaurant on Poydras in NOLA)

First Place Winner, 1985 La Fete Jambalaya Cook-off

Ingredients

2 ounces butter
1 cup onions, diced
3/4 cup rice
2 cups chicken stock
3 bays leaves, whole
8 ounces smoked sausage, sliced
8 ounces chicken, diced in large chunks
1/2 cup celery, diced
1-1/2 tablespoons garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon thyme, fresh, chopped
1 teaspoon basil, fresh, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano, fresh, chopped
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1-1/2 tablespoons flour
6 ounces Creole tomato sauce (see recipe)
1/2 cup green onion tops, chopped

In a medium saucepan (use the type of pan that will also go into the oven), melt butter, add 1/2 cup of onions and sauté until onions are clear. Add rice, 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then remove from stove and place in a 450 degree oven for five to seven minutes. Remove from the oven and hold. Rice should be approximately half cooked.

In a heavy pot, render fat out of the sausage. Remove sausage, Sauté chicken in the same pot and remove. Sauté the rest of the onions with celery, green peppers, garlic and seasonings (thyme, basil, oregano, white pepper, cayenne pepper) in remaining fat. Dust with flour (sprinkle about 1-1/2 teaspoons on top of vegetables to thicken and flavor) and cook for five minutes. Add remaining chicken stock, cook two minutes, and add sausage and chicken, pre-cooked rice, Creole tomato sauce, green onions and 2 bay leaves. Simmer for 30 minutes or less or until done, but not too dry. Salt and pepper to taste. Serves six.

Creole Tomato Sauce 

The following recipe is a basic tomato sauce that is difficult to make in small quantities. You can make the whole amount and freeze the remainder for other uses, such as on pasta dishes.

3 pounds ripe Creole tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup French shallots, diced
6 medium cloves garlic, diced
1 teaspoon thyme, fresh
1 teaspoon oregano, fresh
2 teaspoons white pepper
1/4 cup red wine
1 teaspoon sugar

Boil whole tomatoes for one minute, then remove skins, cut in half, remove seeds and dice – you should have about seven cups. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan, add shallots and cook for two minutes. Add garlic, thyme, oregano, basil and white pepper. Sauté shallots until clear. Add diced tomatoes, bring mixture to a boil, add red wine and sugar, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tomatoes begin to break up. Salt and pepper to taste and purée in a blender of food processor.
Yields 5 cups.


New Orleans Cuisine’s Louisiana Shrimp Étouffée Recipe

Note: The chef who compiled this recipe recommends keeping a defibrillator on hand nearby the dining table, just in case your daddy needs it when he finishes.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/8 cup A.P. flour
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 cups shrimp stock
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Crystal or Louisiana Gold)
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1 pound good quality shrimp, peeled and deveined; save shells for the stock (recommended: Emeril Lagasse’s Wild-Caught Louisiana Shrimp)
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 recipe Creole boiled rice

While your stock is simmering, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the flour and stir 7-10 minutes to make a red-brown roux. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of the seasoning, the Holy Trinity (onions, celery, bell pepper), and the garlic. Set aside. (Up to this step, everything can be done in advance.)

When the stock is finished and strained, bring 1 cup of it to a boil. Whisk the roux and vegetable mixture in and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add 1 tablespoon of the seasoning, Worcestershire, and the hot sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Have your Creole boiled rice ready and your serving dishes warmed before starting the next step.

In a large cast iron frying pan, melt 1/2 stick of the butter over medium heat. Add the green onions, shrimp, and remaining 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning. Sauté until the shrimp just start to turn pink. Add 1/2 cup more of the shrimp stock and the remaining 1/2 stick butter; cook until the butter is melted and incorporated into the sauce, 3-5 minutes, constantly shaking the pan back-and-forth (versus stirring). If your sauce starts to separate, add a splash of stock and continue shaking the pan.

Mound 1/2 cup of Creole boiled rice on each serving plate (2). Divide the Étouffée onto the two plates, over the rice. Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Shrimp Stock

Ingredients

The shells and tails from 1 pound of shrimp
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrot
2 garlic cloves
2 fresh bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Add all ingredients to a 2 quart saucepan. Cover this with cold water (about 2 – 2 1/2 cups). You’ll need 1 1/2 Cups for the Étouffée. Bring almost to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Strain.

Creole Boiled Rice

Ingredients

1 quart of boiling water
1 cup Uncle Ben’s rice
4 fresh bay leaves (If you have to use dried, do so, but damn….. the fresh are so much better!)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)

Bring the water to a boil with the bay leaves. Add the salt. Add the rice, stir to make sure the rice doesn’t stick! Do not stir again! If you agitate the rice too much, it gets sticky. So give it a good stir, and when it comes back to a boil, partially cover it. Cook for about 11 minutes, then taste it. It should have some bite, but a crunch is bad. Cook longer if necessary to ditch the crunch. When finished, drain it and pluck out the bay leaves. If desired place it into a 400 degree oven with the butter patted on top of it; this helps dry the rice out.

Creole Seasoning

Ingredients

1/2 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup paprika
1/4 cup granulated garlic
4 tablespoons onion powder
1/3 cup freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons white pepper
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano

Combine all ingredients and place in an airtight jar or plastic container.

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Music Playlists

Get ready to tap your toes, kick up your heels, and break out that Southern drawl as you sing and dance along.

New Orleans/Louisiana Music

Dr. John: Iko Iko (Jock-A-Mo)

Fats Domino: Walking to New Orleans

Mary Chapin Carpenter: Down at the Twist and Shout

Louis Armstrong: When the Saints Go Marching In

Harry Connick, Jr: Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans

Professor Longhair: Go To the Mardi Gras

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Born on the Bayou

The Animals: House of the Rising Sun

Preservation Hall Jazz Band & Tom Waits: Tootie Ma Is a Big Fine Thing

George Strait: Adalida

Alabama Music

The Million Dollar Band: University of Alabama Crimson Tide Fight Song

Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band: Dixie’s Land

Elvis Presley: An American Trilogy (Dixie’s Land/Battle Hymn of the Republic/All My Trials)

Jason Isbell: Alabama Pines

Alabama: My Home’s In Alabama

Garth Brooks: Alabama Clay

Randy Newman: Birmingham

Songs of the South

Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top

Charlie Daniels Band: The Devil Went Down to Georgia

Allman Brothers Band: Ramblin’ Man

Patsy Cline: Blue Moon of Kentucky

R.L. Burnside: Goin’ Down South

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong: Summertime

Ray Charles: Georgia On My Mind

Dolly Parton: Coat of Many Colours

Otis Redding: Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay

Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner’s Daughter

Caroline Herring: Mistress

Songs cited in LANDFALL

Phil Vassar: I’ll Take That as a Yes (The Hot Tub Song)

Aretha Franklin: Mary Don’t You Weep

Kurt Carr: Surely God is Able

Joan Baez: Hush, Little Baby

Frankie Valli: Grease

Abba: Waterloo

My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean (Scottish folk song)

Row Row Row Your Boat (English nursery rhyme/American minstrel)

Roberta Flack: Feel Like Making Love

Jackson 5: Serpentine Fire

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Donate to Reconstruction Efforts

If you were moved by the plight of displaced New Orleanians, please consider donating to an organization involved in ongoing reconstruction efforts. Here are three nonprofits Ellen highly recommends supporting:

  • Common Ground Relief  – Headquartered in the Lower Ninth Ward, they run numerous programs ranging from new home construction to wetlands restoration and community education.
  • Rebuilding Together New Orleans – A program of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, RTNO focuses on the total renovation and rebuilding of storm-damaged homes, in order to allow the urban poor to return to their own properties.
  • Habitat for Humanity, New Orleans Area – Presently considered one of the largest homebuilders in New Orleans, NOAHH has built hundreds of homes in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines Parishes. Habitat also is spearheading The Musicians’ Village conceived by Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis, which will consist of seventy-two single-family, Habitat-constructed homes for New Orleans musicians displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

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