64 Parishes

Trombone Shorty

New Orleanian Trombone Shorty is a nationally acclaimed recording artist and performer.

Trombone Shorty

Wikimedia Commons

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. joergens.mi, photographer

After Hurricane Katrina, trombonist, trumpeter, bandleader, songwriter, and author Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews emerged from post-disaster New Orleans as a representative of a new generation of New Orleans musicians. In his early twenties, Andrews achieved national fame while serving as an ambassador for his hometown’s post-Katrina recovery. He earned his nickname, Trombone Shorty, when he was a precocious child musician shorter than the brass instrument he soon mastered.

Born January 2, 1986, Andrews’s roots run deep in New Orleans’s musical and cultural heritage. The grandson of rhythm-and-blues star Jessie Hill (best known for his 1960 hit, “Ooh Poo Pah Doo”), Andrews was tutored as a child by his brother James Andrews, also a professional musician, in the essentials of New Orleans street music. He first acquired professional experience as a member of one of the city’s many brass bands. In addition to homegrown street rhythms, Andrews’s music fuses other influences including jazz, funk, hip hop, rhythm-and-blues, and rock.

Andrews received formal training at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, a professional training center for high-school students that boasts several nationally recognized musicians, actors, and other artists among its alumni. During his late teens, he launched a recording career that has yielded eight albums in a variety of genres, including traditional New Orleans jazz, and joined Lenny Kravitz’s band for the rock star’s Electric Church World Tour. He also formed his own band, Orleans Avenue.

With his reputation as an entertainer and network of professional contacts spreading before Hurricane Katrina, Andrews proved to be much in demand for post-Katrina fundraisers and New Orleans tribute concerts and recordings, enhancing his national and international music profile. In February 2010 he announced a major achievement for a twenty-four-year-old musician: a long-term contract with the Verve Forecast label, an affiliate of Universal Music Group. In April 2010 Andrews released his first Verve album, Backatown, produced by Ben Ellman, a saxophonist with the New Orleans funk band Galactic. Backatown was an immediate hit, debuting at number one on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, and earning a Grammy nomination.

Andrews continued producing best-selling albums and making high-profile appearances, including cameos on the HBO series, Treme. In February 2012 he performed at the White House in a televised tribute to the blues during Black History Month. In May of that year, Andrews was awarded the President’s Medal by Tulane University, home of the high-school education program he established in partnership with his Trombone Shorty Foundation. The foundation’s mission is “to inspire the next generation of talented youth through music education, instruction, mentorship, and performance.”

In 2013 Andrews and Orleans Avenue debuted as the mainstage closing-day act at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the spot traditionally occupied by the Neville Brothers. The following year Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue performed at the Grammy Awards with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Madonna, and Queen Latifah. Andrews has appeared on the Grammy Awards telecast four times and made guest appearances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Austin City Limits, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Arsenio.

Andrews followed his Backatown album with two more Verve Forecast releases, For True (2011) and Say That to Say This (2013), and the subsequent Blue Note releases Parking Lot Symphony (2017) and Lifted (2022). A guest appearance on Jon Batiste’s 2021 album, We Are, earned Andrews a Grammy Award when the album won Album of the Year. In the 2010s and beyond, Andrews collaborated on stage and/or in the studio with Lauren Daigle, Gary Clark Jr., Pharrell, Bruno Mars, Raphael Saadiq, Mark Ronson, Foo Fighters, Zac Brown, and Ringo Starr. In addition to his closing-day performances at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, his festival appearances have included Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and the Newport Folk and Newport Jazz Festivals. In 2015 he became the first New Orleans artist to play a mainstage performance at the annual Essence Festival.

Andrews’s first book for young readers, 2015’s Trombone Shorty, was named a Caldecott Honors Book. His twenty-nine-city tour in 2018, Voodoo Threauxdown, featured fellow New Orleans acts Galactic, Erica Falls, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Kermit Ruffins, the New Breed Brass Band, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. At home in New Orleans during the 2020 Mardi Gras season, Andrews and the Krewe of Freret presented a music-themed parade including musicians from Preservation Hall and Arcade Fire, marching bands, and other performers. The procession ended at Mardi Gras World, site of the first annual Shorty Gras ball. In 2022 Andrews and Orleans Avenue performed aboard the Celebration Gator, Louisiana’s official float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.