Japanese Musician and Jazz Lover Gives Back to New Orleans

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"Beyond Katrina" contributor donating instruments.

While most children are waiting for Dec. 25 to unwrap Christmas gifts, the students in New Orleans public schools have been receiving gifts from half-way around the world from a fellow musician who once lived in New Orleans and grew up a Louis Armstrong fan. In his featured entries on" Beyond Katrina: The Voice of Hurricane Disaster & Recovery," Yoshio Toyama recounts when he met Satchmo in Japan in 1964. That meeting and the music of the great jazz musician helped shaped his life. He and his wife are currently sending musical instruments and donations to students and displaced musicians from Japan to aid in Katrina recovery through their Wonderful World Jazz Foundation.

"When we moved to New Orleans in 1968 I found the neighborhood that gave birth to Louis Armstrong and Jazz," explained Toyama at http://www.hurricane-katrina.org. "This area also happens to be the community that was totally wiped out by Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005."

Trumpeter and vocalist Yoshio Toyama, 62, has been making a living playing Classic Jazz in Japan and elsewhere for over three decades. Yoshio Toyama and his wife Keiko apprenticed from 1968 to 1973 at Preservation Hall in New Orleans, hanging out with the likes of Percy Humphrey and "Sweet Emma Barret." Toyama's playing and singing style is influenced by the musical legacy of the legendary Louis Armstrong.

The Foundation has been in existence for the past 12 years, but after Katrina devastated New Orleans the Toyama's ramped up their efforts to aid impacted musicians. Most of the more recent work is covered in a recent post at http://www.hurricane-katrina.org/2006/11/visiting_new_or.html. They have provided more than 600 instruments through the Foundation, many of the schools they supported no longer exist after the storm.

Since the storm, Toyama has donated about $84,000, including the musicians' funds of Lincoln Center Higher Ground, Jazz Foundation for America, Preservation Hall's NOMHRF (New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund), and Arabi Wrecking Krewe.

"It was puzzling to me that kids living in the birthplace of jazz had either beaten up instruments or none at all," added Toyama. "In the year since the Katrina disaster, jazz fans and amateur bands from all over Japan held benefit concerts and sent donations and instruments to us, hoping to get them to New Orleans musicians."

Margaret Saizan, creator of http://www.hurricane-katrina.org, has moved from her day-by-day accounts of the storm and its initial effects to an international, online discussion to inspire recovery, transformation and new vision through the deeper wisdom of crisis.

"I've been amazed at how this storm continues to generate international interest and charity," said blogger Margaret Saizan. "I hope that featured contributors like Yoshio Toyama and the others making a difference post-Katrina will prompt the hundreds of thousands of visitors to my blog to get involved and make a difference long term for any community who experiences crisis."

Since Saizan's first posting on Aug. 28, 2005, hundreds of thousands of readers from more than 172 countries have connected with "Beyond Katrina." The blog was recently awarded the Society for New Communications Research Professional Award. The award honors innovative organizations and professionals who are pioneering the use of social media (i.e., blogs, wikis, podcasts, collaborative tools and other forms of participatory communications) in the areas of marketing, public relations and advertising, politics, entertainment, academics, and community and cultural development.

About Margaret Saizan

Margaret Saizan (http://www.margaretsaizan.org) is a new media publisher, personal/ organizational coach, and community activist. The Baton Rouge, La. native became a blogger during the largest natural disaster in U.S. history - Hurricane Katrina. A graduate of Newfield Network, one of the best regarded international coach training schools, Margaret focuses on empowering leadership and facilitating action during transition, crisis, and disaster as the pathway to new vision. http://www.hurricane-katrina.org and Big Vision Media aspire to ignite wise action, new vision and positive change through transformational media.

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