Necklaces by TIFFANY & CO. and KACEY K FINE JEWELRY
Bracelets by ME&RO
Watch by ROLEX
Boat provided by WEFING'S MARINE
TEXT BY LENNY KRAVITZ
In 1994, I was working in New York City on an album at the time when I decided to go to New Orleans to see Aretha Franklin play at Jazz Fest. I had never seen Aretha play, and it seemed like something I needed to do. It was going to be a short trip, but I immediately fell in love with the vibe, the architecture, the food and, most of all, the city's people. Instead of finishing the album on time, I ended up staying for six months and buying my first house, in the French Quarter.
So in April 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, triggering one of the biggest oil spills in history, it literally hit home.
I felt for my people, for the environment, which is so beautiful and lush, with all of its fish, birds and wildlife. I wanted to help, so I played a benefit concert for Gulf Aid charity—but I felt I could do more than that. They look at me as a local. I wanted to connect, to be with them. So I started taking trips out to the swamps and to the parishes outside the city. I met men who were fishermen, whose daddies were fishermen, whose grandfathers were fishermen and whose great grandfathers were fishermen. I saw these grown men break down and cry, but I also saw their resilience, their determination to fight on.
People in New Orleans, and throughout the entire Gulf Coast region, are defined by an indefatigable spirit. They're very much like New Yorkers in the sense that they're going to keep moving forward no matter what happens to them. New Orleans is a place where, during funeral processions, people dance up and down the street even as they hoist caskets, stopping at favorite bars and haunts along the way. That shows you what they're like: If they can party at a funeral, they can keep going through a disaster.
Unfortunately, as the cleanup continued, there was a fear factor at play. People who had read reports or watched footage of the spill were afraid to come to the Gulf, convinced that oil was running down the streets and that everything was toxic. That's why I went on Anderson Cooper's show on CNN in June 2010—to demonstrate that we were open for business. That's why I joined The Nature Conservancy in its collaboration with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED to draw attention to all that remains vibrant and beautiful in the Gulf—and there is plenty—from the Louisiana bayous to Apalachicola.