Donation brings a bit of Mardi Gras to hospital workers

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Members of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra serenade healthcare workers at New Orleans East Hospital, as a tribute for their care of COVID-19 patients, outside the hospital in New Orleans, Friday, May 15, 2020. A New York woman collaborated with the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra to put on what she calls a stimulus serenade to give moral support to front-line hospital workers and COVID-19 patients in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS – Emily Bauman is a believer in the power of music. So when she got her stimulus check, she put that power to work -- for New Orleans’s hospital workers and the city’s out-of-work musicians.

Bauman and a friend funded the stimulus serenade, a concert for front-line health care workers in one of the nation’s coronavirus hot spots, and a paying gig for musicians who badly need one.

Health care workers in masks and hair coverings hoisted umbrellas and waved handkerchiefs, danced and clapped as nine members of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra performed outside New Orleans East Hospital. They played “Do Whatcha Wanna” and “Hot Sausage Rag” and Paul Barbarin’s “Second Line.”

In a city known for music and good times, last Friday’s serenade was a balm for difficult ones.

“This was fantastic therapy for us and our staff,” said Takeisha Charles Davis, a doctor at the hospital and among those dancing there on Friday. “The last 8½ weeks have been tremendously stressful.”

Their benefactor is not even a local resident. A professor, classical pianist and jazz enthusiast, Bauman lives in New York City. (An anonymous friend also donated a stimulus check to the project.)

At first, the plan was to present the serenade in New York. When Bauman was told it wasn’t practical to do it there, she was elated to hear it would be workable in New Orleans.

Bauman, 49, said she fell hard for NOLA when she lived there temporarily as part of the Teach for America program in the 1990s.