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Crescent City Sounds Featured Artist: Sierra Green & the Soul Machine

Marie Simoneaux

Marie Simoneaux

Marie Simoneaux is a writer and journalist who tells stories about the human impact of the Library.

Sierra Green first fell in love with performing when she was six years old singing gospel in her church. Now, the New Orleans native is a fixture of the Frenchmen Street scene and one of the handful of artists featured on Crescent City Sounds, the New Orleans Public Library’s locally-focused music streaming platform. 

Sierra Green and the Soul Machine have been playing together for seven years and learned about Crescent City Sounds from their media manager. 

“She heard that the Library was looking for local artists to help build this New Orleans-only streaming service, and thought it would be a good opportunity to get our album out there, even if we didn’t get chosen,” Green recalled. 

But, a few months later, Green received word that her album would be one of 30 to be featured on the new platform. 

“I was so honored. I cried when I found out,” Green said. “I think it’s super special, and I’m so appreciative.”

Crescent City Sounds officially went live in early October. The platform’s music library was built by a team of curators made up of Library staff and established players in New Orleans’ music community.  

The curators included music journalist and WWOZ DJ Alison Fensterstock, Jazz Museum Curator David Kunian, music consultant and ethnomusicology expert Holly Hobbs, co-founder of New Orleans-based management company MidCitizen Entertainment Tavia Osbey, and award-winning local rapper Alfred Banks. 

Library associate Josh Smith headed the project and said one of his primary goals is to help up-and-coming musicians connect with new opportunities and audiences. For Green, knowing the Crescent City Sounds team found joy from her music is a win in itself. 

“There’s no greater feeling than hearing that people like your music and think it deserves to be out there,” she said. 

In addition to getting new listeners, Green said she hopes Crescent City Sounds will show people that New Orleans music is more than just one genre. 

“I want it to open people up to new ideas of what New Orleans music means. People who aren’t from around here might think New Orleans music is just jazz or second line music, but we’ve got everything here,” she said. “New Orleans is a music city, for any kind of music, and hopefully, a service like this will show people that.”

As a listener, Green said she’s excited to dive into the platform herself, to learn more about the local music scene. 

“I know some of the bands that are featured, and I’m so excited to be sharing this honor with them. But, there’s also a lot of artists that I don’t know, and I’m looking forward to listening to them, too,” she said. “The fact that we’re all local musicians sharing this platform, I think it’s dope.” 

Additionally, Green said knowing Crescent City Sounds was built by the Library makes it all the more special. Growing up, she spent countless hours at Nora Navra Library and makes it a point to bring her son to their local Library location as often as she can. 

“I’ve had a Library card since I was 8 years old. I love going to the Library, and my son does too,” Green said. “I think it says so much about the Library as an organization that they’re thinking outside the box and finding new ways to engage with the city and with the community, beyond just lending out books.” 

Green said libraries have played a special role in her life, beyond childhood memories and sharing time with her son.  

“After Hurricane Katrina, I moved up to Oklahoma City and I was up there for a few years. And that’s when I decided I wanted to sing for real, to make it my career,” Green said. “But, once I realized that Oklahoma didn’t really have the venues I wanted to be playing in, I had to find some different types of outlets for my singing until I could get back home,” Green said. 

She ended up finding that outlet in an unlikely place –– her local public library. 

“Can you believe, I ended up booking most of my gigs in Oklahoma at libraries, and at this one festival they had every year,” she said, laughing. “And that was cool for a while, but I knew I needed to get back home if I really wanted to perform the way I wanted to.” 

Green connected with her band, the Soul Machine, about a year after moving back to New Orleans. She describes their sound as bluesy mixed with old-school R&B, and more than a hint of funk.

“Our music is fun, it’s dancing music,” Green said. “It will get you out of your seat, you’ll be dancing and having a good time. It’s a party.” 

To party with Green and her Soul Machine in person, check them out at Frenchmen Street’s Café Negril every Thursday and Saturday from 10pm to 2am. Or, stream them on Crescent City Sounds here. 

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