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Gwen Thompkins

Gwen Thompkins is a New Orleans native, NPR veteran and host of WWNO's Music Inside Out, where she brings to bear the knowledge and experience she amassed as senior editor of Weekend Edition, an East Africa correspondent, the holder of Nieman and Watson Fellowships, and as a longtime student of music from around the world.

Sweet Crude, a six-piece band from New Orleans, combines English and Louisiana French, a dialect that has evolved over hundreds of years, mostly in southern Louisiana. The band's percussive sound is the result of classical training and youthful enthusiasm.

Sometimes, even when you think you have everything perfectly planned out, life can be unpredictable. New Orleans artist Maggie Koerner wasn't looking for a career in music; in fact, she was on her way to getting her master's in child psychology.

Each year, Quint Davis commissions two aerial photographs of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival's massive operation at the Fair Grounds Race Course in Mid-City. The first is a still life: Passels of white tents and purple, green and gold bleachers are easily visible in the frame, grass is still growing in front of the food booths and the stages look quiet. The outside track encircling the field is, if not pristine, nearly so.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

This essay is one in a series celebrating women whose major contributions in recording occurred before the time frame of NPR Music's list of 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

There are a lot of stories to tell about New Orleans.

There are uplifting stories about new houses, new shops and gigantic drainage projects. There are melancholy stories about everything residents lost in Hurricane Katrina, about all that can never be recovered. There are stories about all that remains to be done, 10 years after the hurricane and the levee failures.

And, throughout it all, there are love stories.

Want to hear one?

'It Was Still Mardi Gras'