Glen David Andrews and the Healing Power of Horns

Glen David Andrews. Photo by Golden Richard III.

Glen David Andrews. Photo by Golden Richard III.

“Man, I’m so humbled,” Glen David Andrews says. He then reels off a slew of his recent awards and accomplishments. Last November, he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame as a “Future Hall of Famer,” alongside Amanda Shaw, and he’ll close not one but two stages this year at Jazz Fest.

The 32-year-old is quick to point out that as recently as five years ago, nobody would touch him. “I wasn’t doing any good,” he says. “I don’t blame them.” He was a promising high school musician who often marched in second lines with his brother Derrick Tabb and other members of the Andrews family. But he was often in trouble at school and with the law. He got hooked on drugs and did two years in prison. In the past few years, he has worked to rebuild his reputation and generate some good karma to make up for his past.

Andrews’ initiative Trumpets Not Guns (TNG) is one way that he is giving back to the community. The organization he founded with John and Lisa Grillot collects, refurbishes and donates instruments directly to New Orleans students. The donated instruments help the students in their music careers, build self-esteem and motivate them. So far, TNG has donated instruments to eight schools.

Andrews has personally delivered the instruments to students. At Warren Charter School, the well-behaved student body impressed him. “They let the kids out for lunch and the kids come back,” he says in awe.

TNG isn’t Andrews’ only big idea. While he has personally dug himself into a financial hole for TNG, Andrews dreams of opening up a substance abuse rehabilitation center for musicians. “I’d like to put it next to the Musicians’ Clinic or somewhere deep in the woods in Algiers,” he muses.

Andrews credits his faith for getting him through drug addiction. Growing up in the Treme, his childhood home was surrounded by churches and nightclubs. He often sings gospel and released his 2009 gospel album, Walking through Heaven’s Gate, on Threadhead Records. That led to his electrifying 2009 Gospel Tent performance at Jazz Fest, and he’ll close the tent on the second Sunday this year. Trombone Shorty will join him for that set, and Amanda Shaw will be his guest when he plays the Blues Tent May 1.