The Soul Rebels
About The Soul Rebels
The award-winning New Orleans group the Soul Rebels combine elements of hip-hop and R&B with a traditional brass band sound. One media outlet proclaimed them "the missing link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong." Their crowd-pleasing, booty-shaking style made them natural collaborators for a wide range of artists including Nas, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Rakim, and Galactic, among others. Given the thumping, swinging, uptempo nature of their music, they have also been staples at major media and sporting events including those sponsored by the NFL, NCAA, ESPN, and WWE. They have also played Stella McCartney's fashion shows. Due to a high-energy performance style and the popularity of albums like 1994's Let Your Mind Be Free, 2005's Rebelution, and 2012's best-selling award-winner Unlock Your Mind, they have played festival stages and concert halls across the globe with artists ranging from Metallica and Marilyn Manson to Lauryn Hill and Katy Perry.
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 couldn't' record their own music for six long years. In the fall of 2018, they began writing and rehearsing material. They brought in guest artists including PJ Morton, Branford Marsalis, Big Freedia, Robert Glasper, Trombone Shorty, and NOLA rappers Dee-1 and Alfred Banks. Titled Poetry in Motion (after a '60s pop tune by Johnny Tillotson), the set was heavily influenced by hip-hop and funk, and was released to massive acclaim by Mack Avenue Records in October of 2019. ~ William Ruhlmann
HOMETOWNNew Orleans, LA