"Lilly of the Valley" - New Birth Brass Band

“Lilly of the Valley” (PDF) from the New Birth Brass Band album, New Orleans Second Line!
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The lily appears throughout the Catholic tradition as a symbol of, essentially, new birth. The virgin-white flower blossoming among its scorned surroundings suggests a ray of hope and beauty from a glorified provider, as celebrated in the fleur de lis. A reassurance that all this too shall pass, placing one’s faith in the lily of the valley is an act of defiant strength.

And so is armed robbery and domestic violence.

Earlier this month, Glen David Andrews was arrested shorty after his 40th birthday on charges that could lead to serious incarceration. In 2012, Andrews was also convicted on previous charges that eventually led to his rehabilitation. He is no stranger to the turmoil of black America, and perhaps even a systemic victim of it, as Andews is credited for the lyrics of the Lil Rascals’ anthem “Knock With Me - Rock With Me” describing the social effects of an under-priviledge community.

He is a brilliant performer of a reformed gospel music, providing a first-hand testament to the power of music as a social vehicle for prevention, rehabilitation, and opportunity. Yet, his insistence to take matters into his own hands, planting the lily himself, is proving to be his Sisyphean boulder. For example on this live recording, it appears that Andrews’ trombone gets in the way of, I assume, Corey Henry’s trombone solo. It’s an honest mistake… maybe he didn’t know whose it really was.

Glen David Andrews is an authentic and valuable voice for New Orleans music, preaching a story that only he can tell. But perhaps it’s time for another flower to blossom in these troubled times.

Here is a YouTube video of Glen David Andrews from 2012 explaining Saints to Red Bull Music.

Recommended reading: Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans by Matt Sakakeeny. Published by Duke University Press.