New Orleans’ own Cha Wa appeared on NPR Music‘s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert video series this week. The energetic nonet filmed its performance from the French Quarter’s iconic Preservation Hall, a venue built to protect, preserve, and perpetuate New Orleans jazz music.

Led by frontman and lead vocalist Joseph Boudreaux Jr., Cha Wa channeled the essence of Black culture and music during its 21-minute performance. Containing two lifelong members of New Orleans’ centuries-old Black Masking Traditions—Boudreaux of the Mardi Gras Indians and Aurélien Barnes (trumpet/vocals) of The North Side Skull & Bone Gang—Cha Wa opened with “My People”, a song that focuses on the disparities present in society with lyrics like, “Rich people living in paradise/ Poor people under the bridge at night, oh yeah/ Most people know what it takes to survive/ But my people know how to do it and thrive.” Musically, Cha Wa delivered the track dripping with horns and a rhythm section that would put a metronome to shame.

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Immediately noticeable on “My People” and a theme that carried throughout the set on songs like “Bow Wow”, “Morning Glory”, and “Wildman”, were the excellent vocal harmonies. Seven of the nine group members performed with a microphone in front of them, and each person put it to good use. Comprised of top musicians from the city’s world-renowned Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs and Second Line brass bands, Cha Wa kept the storied legacies of Black American music alive while truly embodying New Orleans’ street culture.

Watch Cha Wa perform on NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert series below. The band has one scheduled tour date in 2021 at Fairhope Music Festival in Fairhope, AL. Head here for tickets and more information.

Cha Wa – Tiny Desk (Home) Concert