Jazz Religion, the Second Line, and Black New Orleans

Jazz Religion, the Second Line, and Black New Orleans

Richard Brent Turner
Distribution: World
Publication date: 8/11/2009
Format: paper 200 pages, 25 b&w illus.
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-22120-9
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In his new book, Richard Brent Turner explores the history and contemporary significance of the popular religious traditions, identities, and performance forms celebrated in the second lines of the jazz street parades of black New Orleans. The second line is the group of dancers who follow the first procession of church and club members, brass bands, and grand marshals. Here musical and religious traditions interplay. Jazz Religion, the Second Line, and Black New Orleans examines the relationship of jazz to indigenous religion and spirituality. It explores how the African diasporist religious identities and musical traditions—from Haiti and West and Central Africa—are reinterpreted in New Orleans jazz and popular religious performances, while describing how the participants in the second line create their own social space and become proficient in the arts of political disguise, resistance, and performance.

Author Bio

Richard Brent Turner is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Iowa and author of Islam in the African-American Experience (IUP, 2003).


"A well-written, well-researched, thoughtful, and generative book." —George Lipsitz, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Turner straddles religions, music, the performance arts, languages, nationalities, and identities skillfully . . . with aplomb, with brio, in a language all his own that sings." —Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

"Turner (Univ. of Iowa) has written an outstanding study of jazz religion and the second line in New Orleans, the 'most African city' in the US. This study is both personal and academic ... Highly recomended." —

"Students of 'popular religion' will find in Turner’s work a fascinating study of a religious tradition flourishing almost entirely outside of institutional boundaries, while those with an interest in the history of jazz or the city of New Orleans will find gems of insight valuable to students of both." —Journal of Religion and Popular Culture

"If you are interested in New Orleans jazz, Voodoo, Haiti, and what underlies these important topics, this is definitely the book to have on hand for frequent reference. The author has done a splendid job, and the reader will find this book a helpful treasure of reading material." —jazzreview.com

"Jazz Religion, the Second Line, and Black New Orleans is a provocative examination of the role of religion and music in modern American culture with a particular focus on the way that history hasw forced change in complex communities." —Southern Quarterly

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Follow the Second Line
1. The Haiti—New Orleans Vodou Connection: Zora Neale Hurston as Initiate Observer
2. Mardi Gras Indians and Second Lines, Sequin Artists and Rara Bands: Street Festivals and Performances in New Orleans and Haiti

Interlude: The Healing Arts of African Diasporic Religion

3. In Rhythm with the Spirit: New Orleans Jazz Funerals and the African Diaspora
Epilogue. A Jazz Funeral for "A City That Care Forgot": The New Orleans Diaspora after Hurricane Katrina

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