JAZZ LEGEND WYNTON MARSALIS TO HOST THE BROADCAST PREMIERE OF "48 HOURS PRESENTS: THE WHOLE GRITTY CITY" SATURDAY, FEB. 15, 2014, 9:00 PM (ET/PT)
CBS News Cultural Correspondent and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis will host the premiere of 48 HOURS PRESENTS: "The Whole Gritty City," a poignant, feature-length documentary about the power of music and how it can transform - and even save - young lives. The program will be broadcast Feb. 15, 2014 (9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
The raw, un-narrated film goes behind the scenes with three dedicated New Orleans marching band directors. Their goal is to prepare students to march in Mardi Gras parades, but the real lesson they teach is survival in a city with one of the highest murder rates in the country.
"New Orleans buries too many of its young," says Marsalis, who was born and raised there. "This is their refuge, the band room. It's their safe haven from the lures and dangers of the streets and the tyranny of low expectations."
The film by Richard Barber, a 48 HOURS editor-producer, and Andre Lambertson, a cinematographer and photojournalist, follows the lives of five band students. All have lost someone close to them to violence, yet each finds purpose, solace and joy in the marching band.
Jaron "Bear" Williams, 11, is one of them. He uses a video camera to record his walk to school. "This is the street I don't like, because it has guns," he says to the camera. Not far away, his 19-year-old brother was shot to death. "I cried the whole day," he says. "I couldn't get him out of my head."
After his brother's death, Bear joined the Roots of Music marching band and learned to play trumpet. He earned his way into his first parade. The experience was life-changing. "I feel like I'm the best thing in the world and I can't be stopped," he says.
"I have the power of the music," says Wilbert Rawlins, Jr., one of the band directors featured in the documentary.
"I don't care if you just had something very tragic that happened to you in your life. Once that band gives you that downbeat, and that music is right, and it's powerful," says Rawlins. "Just for that brief two or three minutes you forget everything, every problem you had. You have no cares in the world. Yeah, it must be nice to actually live like that, with no cares in the world."
The New Orleans Times-Picayune called "The Whole Gritty City" "an impassioned look at the often unsung heroes of Mardi Gras parades... both a celebratory film... and a very emotional one."
Author and screenwriter David Simon writes, "'Gritty City' is glorious. Alternately heartbreaking and joyous, one instant to the next."