The Center will include performance and classroom space and is named for the Marsalisfamily patriarch, a modern jazz icon and native New Orleanian.

“Music is as much a part of the fabric of life in New Orleans as the cuisine, the culture,”said Branford Marsalis, himself an award-winning saxophonist. “Katrina and Rita scatteredmusicians across the country, and shuttered many clubs and concert venues across the city.”

“This plan, this village will help restore New Orleans’ musical heritage and protect it forthe next generation that will follow,” he added, noting that it’s “also the beginning of Habitat’sreturn to work in the city, which will see hundreds of houses built in the years to come to helphurricane recovery and beyond.”

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin joined reps from Habitat for Humanity’s New Orleansaffiliate for a December 6 press conference announcing the ambitious project. In addition to theEllis Marsalis Center, Habitat for Humanity hopes to build 250 to 500 homes over a four-parisharea.

More than $2 million has been raised for the Musicians’ Village including proceeds fromthe historic “From the Big Apple to the Big Easy” benefit concerts held at Madison SquareGarden and Radio City Music Hall September 20.

“This is very exciting because it uses the Habitat model – building homes andcommunities – and takes it a step farther, to helping hope for the future,” Connick said.

The singer said four or five of the 16 musicians in his own band lost their homes.

In addition to the “Big Apple to the Big Easy” donation, other fund-raising efforts are inthe works. Habitat for Humanity has named Connick and Marsalis honorary co-chairs for theproject, dubbed Operation Home Delivery.

Habitat will also work with the NOLA music community to identify partners to assist inbuilding homes and offer a non-profit mortgage.

Funds raised through recordings such as Hurricane Relief: Come Together Now, acollaboration CD by the Recording Industry Association of America, and Our New Orleans: ABenefit Album for the Gulf Coast, a compilation CD by Nonesuch Records, will also benefitMusicians’ Village, Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford said.