UMD’s Katrina Connection

Today, as the nation marks the 10th anniversary of landfall for Hurricane Katrina, we honor the contribution that the Mighty Sound of Maryland, the university’s marching band, made to recovery from that devastating storm.

Shortly after the band performed in support of the Terps’ win at the Champs Sports Bowl on December 29, 2006, 250 members of the band loaded all their equipment and uniforms along with work clothes and tools into five black UMD buses and headed west for New Orleans. Inspired by the Musicians’ Village project, the brainchild of Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis, the MSOM spent a week helping construct new housing so NOLA’s players could return to the city famous for its music.

When they weren’t busy building houses, band members had numerous opportunities to perform, including at the kickoff to Carnival season in front of City Hall and as part of the Krewe of Alla’s Mardi Gras parade. The band also had a chance to meet Marsalis and Connick, who visited their worksite to thank the MSOM for the contribution to the relief efforts.

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Following their return home, many band members commented on the impact the trip had on them personally, among them saxophonist Mike Loveless, who told TERP magazine in 2007: “I can’t tell you the number of times people asked what we were doing and then thanked us for our help. It was sort of overwhelming.”

You can find more of the history of the UMD marching band in the new exhibit “Musical Milestones” on display on the first and second floors of McKeldin Library through January 2016.

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