Monday, December 17, 2012

I want to share this amazing video. It almost defies logic, but is the work of my cousins at the Charbonnet-Labat Funeral Home in New Orleans ... .

"Uncle" Elliott Batiste was an old jazz musician who's family decided that they wanted him to be standing up at his service (he was laid to rest in a casket the day after the viewing).  He was "second-lined" for 3 days after, according to my cousin Armand, co-director of the mortuary.

This is a fine example of cultural differences between white and black religious traditions.  There is little distance between the sacred and the profane in African American culture.  It's all a part of life and to be celebrated in the cultural language of the deceased.  The funeral procession with its somber dirge-like cadence of Amazing Grace contrasted with the spirited jazz once the procession reaches the Mahalia Jackson Auditorium in Congo Square is a fine example of this.   The traditional, "Oh didn't he ramble" is a favorite of the second-liners, and in the case of Uncle Elliott's funeral -- it's clear that every jazz musician in town was in that procession.   According to cousin Armand, "they second-lined him for 3 days!"

The Charbonnet brothers have never revealed how they managed to pull this one off, and it remains a mystery to this day.

We Charbonnets do rise to the challenges though, right?

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