The Soul Rebels
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About The Soul Rebels
Updating the brass band traditions of their New Orleans hometown, the Soul Rebels unite jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and pop into a joyous, dynamic whole. The octet has lent its high-energy style to a remarkably wide range of artists, including Rakim, Portugal the Man, Robert Glasper, Metallica, and Katy Perry. They've also opened for Lauryn Hill, the Allman Brothers, and Nile Rodgers on the hundreds of live dates they play each year. The Soul Rebels' music is just as potent in the studio, with albums like 1994's Let Your Mind Be Free, 2005's Rebelution, and 2012's best-selling award-winner Unlock Your Mind showcasing their power and creativity. On 2019's Poetry in Motion, they continued to innovate; for the first time, they worked with an array of guests that widened their musical horizons even further.
The Soul Rebels were formed by drum majors from the marching bands of Southern, Grambling, and Texas Southern Universities. Lumar LeBlanc (snare drum), Derrick Moss (bass drum), and Damion Francois (tuba) first played together as Young Olympia, the junior division of Milton Batiste's Olympia Brass Band. Joining Tannon Williams (trumpet), Winston Turner (trombone), and Marcus Hubbard (trumpet), they began playing on their own in 1991. (In addition to the six permanent members, the group was frequently augmented by guests Will Terry on tenor sax, DJ Ike Turna on turntables, Mike Woods on percussion, and Thaddeus Clark on electric piano.) In 1993, when they shared a stage with the Neville Brothers, Cyril Neville christened them, saying, "Hey, you're a brass band, but y'all got funk and soul. Y'all are like soul rebels."
The Soul Rebels released their first album, Let Your Mind Be Free, on Mardi Gras Records in 1994. No More Parades followed on Tuff City in 1998. (More Jams from No More Parades was a live remix of the album for DJs made without the band's approval or input.) Rebelution, their third album, followed in February 2005 on Barn Burner Music. The hardworking band (averaging about 250 shows per year) suffered an understandable setback that year when Hurricane Katrina devastated their hometown. Though its members were scattered across the Gulf region, they still managed not only to get back together to play shows from time to time, but also to release an album, 2006's Urban Legend. Following local releases like No Place Like Home: Live in New Orleans, which appeared in 2009, the band saw an increase in visibility after appearing in an episode of the New Orleans-themed HBO original series Treme, as well as in the television broadcast of the parade before the 2010 Super Bowl (the year the Saints won the NFL championship game). Eventually, the Soul Rebels signed on with Rounder Records, which released their 2012 album, Unlock Your Mind. The band toured for several years and soaked up numerous awards at home in NOLA as well as receiving Grammy nods. The album peaked at 14 at Jazz Albums and did well on streaming and download charts. The Soul Rebels' touring, session, and live work kept them so busy that they didn't begin work on their next album until 2016. Seeking to experiment and collaborate, they added drum machines and other unexpected production touches to their sound and invited artists including PJ Morton, Branford Marsalis, Big Freedia, Robert Glasper, Trombone Shorty, and NOLA rappers Dee-1 and Alfred Banks into the studio with them. After contributing a song to the Girls Trip soundtrack and delivering acclaimed performances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and NPR's Tiny Desk concert series, the Soul Rebels issued Poetry in Motion in October 2019. Heavily influenced by hip-hop, funk, and bounce music, the album marked the group's debut on Mack Avenue Records and earned massive acclaim. ~ William Ruhlmann
ORIGINNew Orleans, LA