Branford Marsalis Returns Home as Artistic Director of Ellis Marsalis Center for Music


February 1, 2024

The eldest son of the center’s namesake is gearing up for a homecoming!

The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music (EMCM) has announced Branford Marsalis, the renowned saxophonist and composer, as its new Artistic Director. This prestigious role will see Branford shape the artistic trajectory of the center, providing invaluable insights and steering its creative vision.

Established in 2012 in New Orleans‘ upper Ninth Ward, the EMCM utilizes music as a holistic strategy to uplift underserved communities, offering services to children, youth, and musicians in neighborhoods grappling with poverty and social injustice. The facility serves as a hub for musicians and underserved youth, featuring a large performance space, recording facilities, a computer center, dance studio, classrooms, and teaching facilities. As the eldest son of Ellis Marsalis, Jr., Branford is uniquely positioned to carry forward his father’s legacy, fostering a haven for musicians and children in New Orleans.

A collaborative effort of Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr. –along with Jim Pate and the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity–the EMCM is a living memorial to Ellis Marsalis, Jr., the jazz pianist, educator, and patriarch of the Marsalis family. Branford, stepping into the role of Artistic Director, will play a significant role in shaping the center’s artistic trajectory and collaborating on strategic initiatives. Working closely with the executive leadership, he aims to further develop artistic and educational programs to create social change through the arts.

Branford Marsalis expresses the honor he feels in stepping into this role, acknowledging his father’s commitment to education and community. “My dad was a teacher, in music and in life,” Branford Marsalis said. “After Hurricane Katrina, he envisioned a haven for the underserved musicians and children in his hometown of New Orleans. He spent the last decade of his life committed to turning that dream into a reality at the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music. It is my honor to step into the role of Artistic Director at the Center and to continue to drive its mission. I hope to make my dad proud.” 

Cover Photo: The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music has announced Branford Marsalis as its new Artistic Director. / Credit: Frans Schellekens/REDFERNS


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