UJO Programs


Uptown Music Theatre (2000)

  • Gives (especially African-American) students a sense of pride in accomplishment
  • Develops cognitive skills
  • Improves confidence and public speaking
  • Increases vocabulary and aptitude
  • Develops ability to work with and trust peers
  • Provides mentorship opportunities with seasoned professionals
  • Develops discipline and sharpens ability to focus
  • Develops problem-solving skills and anger management

Staged 16 original musicals with over 100 songs to introduce students to jazz, often within an educational and historical framework including:

  • Kidstown
  • New Tale of the Old West
  • Storyville (G-Rated)
  • Those Crazy 60s
  • Duke Ellington
  • Althea Gibson

Staged 14 musical productions (Broadway classics) including:

  • Annie
  • Fiddler on the Roof
  • Lion King
  • Schoolhouse Rock

Trained over 500 students

Implemented after-school programs at Lusher Charter (now named the Willow), Samuel L. Green Charter, Kipp Central City, & Arthur Ashe Elementary.

One current member and one alumni have performed on Broadway.

Alumni Donald Jones & Lloyd Dillon, jr attended Juilliard School of Drama

Recognized for outstanding production or ensemble work in all 11 years participating in the Jr. Theatre Festival (largest theatrical competition in the world). Competed against over 100 groups annually.

Alumni often return to volunteer/mentor younger students and assist in productions

Uptown Music Theatre has provided students with a safe environment, in which they are able to develop into adults, make new friends, and set examples of excellence for their peers.


Uptown Jazz Orchestra (2008)

UJO maintains traditions that are important to jazz performance such as:

  • Riff-playing
  • Spontaneous song arrangements
  • New Orleans-styled horn polyphony

A multi-generational outfit, UJO musicians work together to play diverse repertoire from early traditional to swing, bebop to modern jazz, brass band to classic r&b

Released 3 cds to critical acclaim.
Employs 30+ musicians annually.
Performed in S. Africa, Germany and throughout the U.S.

Cool School Banner.ai

(Soft introduction to jazz)

  • Developed in 2006 as a form of music therapy at Children’s Hospital in the wake of Hurricane Katrina aftermath
  • Reached over 6000 kids nationally
  • Teaches all students about the blues, swing, standard American song form
  • Allows (especially underserved) students access to mostly acoustic music in an intimate setting
  • Encourages students to develop a relationship with music outside of what they hear on the radio or in the mainstream media
  • Often introduces students to the wide emotional range of instrumental music
  • The "Swinging with the Cool School" Music Program was generously supported by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation.
  • The "Swinging with the Cool School" Music Program is generously supported by the New Orleans Tourism and Cultural Fund and the American Federation of Musicians.

2024 Swinging with the Cool School Events

  • Gia-Maione-Prima-Foundation-Inc-LOGO-2200x1600
    Eisenhower Elementary Charter School

    February 20, 2024: 9.35 a.m. to 10.34 a.m.
    3700 Tall Pines Dr., New Orleans, LA 70131

  • Gia-Maione-Prima-Foundation-Inc-LOGO-2200x1600
    Willow School

    February 27, 2024: 2.15-3.00p.m.
    7315 Willow Street
    New Orleans, LA 70118

  • Gia-Maione-Prima-Foundation-Inc-LOGO-2200x1600
    St Katharine Drexel Preparatory School

    May 1, 2024: 2.00-3.00pm
    5116 Magazine St
    New Orleans, LA 70115

  • 3_logo_large
    International School of Louisiana

    May 21, 2024: 2.00-3.00pm
    Algiers Point
    502 Olivier Street
    New Orleans, LA 70114

Supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, as administered by the Arts Council of New Orleans. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment of the Arts.

  • Ellis Marsalis Center for Music

    June 14, 2024: 10.00-11.00am
    1901 Bartholomew St
    New Orleans, LA 70117-5057

  • Gia-Maione-Prima-Foundation-Inc-LOGO-2200x1600
    Alice M. Harte Charter School

    June 18, 2024: 1.00-2.00pm
    5300 Berkley Drive
    New Orleans, LA 70131

  • Gia-Maione-Prima-Foundation-Inc-LOGO-2200x1600
    Andrew H. Wilson Charter School

    June 20, 2024: 11.00-12.00pm
    3617 General Pershing St.
    New Orleans, LA 70125

2023 Swinging with the Cool School Events

April 3, 2023
Martin Luther King Elementary School
1617 Fats Domino Ave., New Orleans, LA 70117

April 4, 2023
Bethune Elementary School
2401 Humanity St., New Orleans, LA 70122

November 9, 2023
KIPP: Morial Middle School
7701 Grant St., New Orleans, LA 70126

November 14, 2023
Warren Easton High School
3019 Canal St., New Orleans 70119

December 12, 2023
Belle Chasse Academy
100 Fifth St., Belle Chasse, LA 70037

December 19, 2023
2800 Chartres St.,
New Orleans, LA 70117

December 21, 2023
Benjamin Franklin Elementary School
1116 Jefferson Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70115

Swinging with the Cool School Sponsors

Spring of 2023

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation

American Federation of Musicians (New Orleans Local) - Music Performance Trust Fund

Fall of 2023

New Orleans Tourism and Cultural Fund

American Federation of Musicians (New Orleans Local) - Music Performance Trust Fund

Uptown Jazz Youth Orchestra

(Currently inactive)

Provides direct mentorship opportunities as youth share the bandstand with professional musicians

Former alumni include:

  • Glenn Hall, jr.
  • John-Michael Bradford
  • Jeffery Miller
  • Brian Richburg
  • Duanne Waples

Students learn firsthand concept of teamwork, improvisational structures and performance nuances

Performed w the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (2011) From Symphony to Jazz


Jazz At Congo Square

Annual outdoor festival started in 2021

Generated revenue for performing New Orleans musicians, vendors and artists including:

  • Tonya Boyd-Cannon
  • Doreen Ketchens
  • Corey Henry & the Treme Funktet
  • Brass-A-holics
  • Congo Square Drum Circle

Maintains African performance, food, dance and social traditions

Keep New Orleans Music Alive

(Currently inactive)

  • Formed in 2020 to provide emergency aid to native New Orleans musicians and culture bearers.
  • Raised $135,000 from over 300 donors
  • Issued 240 cash grants, including 124 musicians, 75 black masking Indians, and 41 cultural dancers
  • Partnered with other musician relief organizations to deliver services to grantees
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