The Passing of Lois Andrews: A Celebration of Life Tribute at the Chapel of Roses at Charbonnet-Labat Funeral Home on Friday, November 19, 2021.
People spilling into the streets under I-10 in Tremé on a Friday evening may not be an uncommon sight, but the crowd gathering around St. Phillip and Claiborne Streets were far from a typical gathering. A cross section of New Orleans were finding solace in tears, laughter, and warm embraces as they arrived to celebrate the life of Lois Andrews, life-long New Orleans cultural bearer, wife of 45 years, and mother of seven, including Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews.
Andrews' life promoting in New Orleans' cultural community was beyond compare, and her impactful legacy long garnering love and respect all along the way. So it was not surprising that her passing away Wednesday, November 10, and subsequent Celebration of Life at Charbonnet-Labat Funeral Home, drew mourners who help comprise New Orleans' jazz royalty, including Gaynell Neville, Cyril Neville, Guitar Slim, Jr., Chief Alfred Doucette, Kermit Ruffins, and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival producer Quint Davis.
As one of the city's few female grand marshals, Andrews was co-founder of the Lady Money Wasters Social Aid and Pleasure Club in 1975, as well as a member of the Money Wasters club for more than 30 years. Her casket emblazoned with dollar-signs and the krewe's poetic mantra embroidered inside:
I'll tell you no story &
I'll tell you no lie &
I'm a Money Waster
Until the Day I Die!"
was a reference to the organization she loved and a fitting way to celebrate her humor.
BORN INTO THE CULTURE
In the words of Lois, "The whole world must come together and be free. New Orleans is a gumbo pot with all these different cultures coming together and I'm honored to be the roux. I know how to stomp all the evil and hatred out of the world. I like to have fun; when you have fun, it makes life better. I want the hating to stop. Let's teach the world to parade together New Orleans-style and let the good times roll!"
Lois Andrews was born into the culture on August 8, 1952—the daughter of Dorothy and the late Jessie "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" Hill and the the granddaughter of Alphonse Picou's famed guitarist, Walter Nelson. She became an institution in New Orleans herself by "bearing the culture, birthing the culture, and reviving the culture," even as she herself became a cultural icon in the 6th Ward. Beloved by her community, she was considered everybody's aunt and she was Queen of the Tremé. She started second-lining at age 4 and accepted Christ at age 8.
In 2019, she was appointed Ruler of Krewedelusion and selected for herself the fitting title of "Mother of Music." In her royal order for the Krewedelusion parade, she asked people to respect each other, be slower to judge, and support the Saints. "There is no better feeling than seeing everyone happy," she said.
In Lois' hands, her home and workplace became cradles for an entire generation of brass bands and musicians. She made ceramics to procure instruments for the children who played in her home, and she ran "The Shop," a store and practice space that encouraged kids to form bands and to practice parading in the streets of the Tremé neighborhood. In the early 1990s, she created a venue for those up-and-coming brass bands by transforming a 6th Ward bar room on the corner of St. Philip and North Robertson Streets into a community hub that she named "Trombone Shorty's," after her youngest son. Today, the bands that form the backbone of the city's musical community exist because of her efforts, which nurtured the Rebirth Brass Band, New Birth Brass Band, Lil Rascals Brass Band, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Tremé Brass Band, Chosen Few Brass Band, and countless other groups, including those of her own children.
And she believed the culture kept her healthy, once telling telling photographer Eric Waters, "If you get out and parade, you don't have to worry about no sickness."
The oldest girl of 12 children, Andrews is survived by nine of her siblings: Lionel, Linda, and Sandra Nelson; Cynthia, Jessie Lee, Eric, Dionne Hill; Dorothy Hill-Martin (Larry) and Judy Hill-Andrews (Darryl). She was married to James Andrews Jr. for 45 years and is the proud mother of seven children: James "12" Andrews III (Karen), Bruce "Fot" Nelson, Terry Nelson, Temeca Andrews, the late Darnell "D-boy" Andrews, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, and Deja Andrews. She has 10 grandchildren—Jasmine Andrews-Woods (Chris), Jenard Andrews, Dereial Andrews, Joshua Keys, Darnell Andrews, James Andrews IV, Tyree Nelson, Hassan Goffner, Terry Nelson, Gianni Nelson—and four great-grandchildren: Keyah Woods; Emerie, Amir, and Jai Andrews.
The services Friday included representatives from the many organizations that Lois Andrews was involved with over the years, including the Money Wasters Social Aid and Pleasure Club, the Dumaine Street Gang Social Aid and Pleasure Club, the Tremé Sidewalk Steppers, as well as musicians from the city's brass band community and past and present employees of Place D'Armes and Hampton Inn hotels.
Funeral services began the following morning on Saturday, November 20 at the Mahalia Jackson Theater of Performing Arts, followed by a traditional second-line jazz-funeral procession. She was interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
While Lois Andrews' passing leaves a hole in the hearts of many, her contributions, love, caring, and commitment to her community, her city, and her culture are all stronger because of her and will continue to be a humbling legacy appreciated by all.