In 1988 Norrie realized that both his predominantly white audience and
fellow musicians were entering their twilight years and that for the N.O.
style to survive in live performance would require committed youngsters to
carry on the tradition. From the birth of jazz up through the 1920's
youngsters in New Orleans learned in an apprentice like atmosphere. The
older musicians passed on their craft and in many cases were later
overshadowed by the prowess of their prodigies but as the N. O. style
became passe in the thirties there were no young musicians interested in
the style and for whatever reason even with it's rebirth in the 1940's it
became the province of the " survivors " who gradually aged and died until
today there are virtually no African American musicians carrying on the
tradition. Dr. Michael White is a notable exception but the original N.O.
style has become the world wide province of mainly middle class persons
without an African heritage.
Norrie decided to produce a band of predominantly African American
youngsters capable, and sounding authentic, enough to perform in New
Orleans. It took a long ten years to achieve but in April of 1998 the
teenage group played the opening set in historic Preservation Hall. His
Post has been in continuous operation for 14 years and he has reached well
over a hundred youngsters with 37 participating in the performance band and
with three so far following musical careers. Happy parents report that
their youngster's academic performance improved while in the Post but
Norrie is disappointed that none of his young musicians who have left to
start their journey through life have yet formed N.O. jazz bands of their own.
Now that he has put a lie to all the naysayers who predicted that he would
never get African American teenagers interested he is actively seeking
funding that will allow him to produce training materials so that other
individuals, without his knowledge and expertise but with the desire, will
be able to start groups of their own. Norrie would love to hear from
anyone with such an interest and would be happy to share his experience of
the joys and yes, the tribulations, of running a New Orleans jazz Explorer