Supporting the City: The Roots of Music

Online Optimism was inspired by the International Day of Music to celebrate the contributions of Black New Orleans culture and heritage on the global stage of music. The Roots of Music is a local organization that does that every day! The Roots of Music honors the unique musical legacy of New Orleans through their music education program. The program focuses on music history, theory, and performance for children ages 9-14 from low-income households.

Three students doing work together

The Roots of Music is compassionate and holistic in their music education. They make sure that students’ basic needs are met by providing them with hot meals and round-trip transportation. The program is free for all students and operates five days a week, 12 months a year. They delivered over 2,500 hours of music education and other academic tutoring, over 30,400 nutritious hot meals, 1,400 bus journeys, and supplies over 150 instruments for student use.

Founded in 2007 by Derrick Tabb and Allison Reinhardt, their first objective with The Roots of Music is to keep children off the streets. After this comes the objective to build a nationally 

recognized marching band. The Roots of Music has performed at the New Orleans Saints Halftime Show, the Essence Festival, the Rose Parade, and in Mardi Gras Parades.


Today, The Roots of Music is having virtual music lessons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization is struggling, as a large portion of their funding came from live performances. You can donate to The Roots of Music here and help them continue their mission of music history and heritage in New Orleans. If you can’t make a donation, you can volunteer your support. Sam Olmsted, Search Director at Online Optimism and a former The Roots of Music volunteer, said “as a former The Roots of Music tutor, it was amazing to see an organization that not only valued music, but that used music as a way to help guide and educate children.”

Student dressed in band uniform