Nine-year-old Javon lives the 7th Ward of New Orleans, and looks up to his older brother. He wants to play trumpet in marching band someday, following his brother’s footsteps, but the realities of Javon’s environment are closing in. Is there even a moment for him to enjoy his childhood, let alone follow his dream?
The story is told by Megan Trufant Tillman – known to Magna Carda fans as Megz Kelli – making her cinematic writing and directorial debut with little trumpet. The multi-talented artist ran with a very specific vision for her short film. “The day I started to write little trumpet, there was just a single image in my mind: A little Black boy huffing and blowing an invisible trumpet on the sidewalk of his 7th Ward street. Pretending and dreaming,” Tillman explains. “I didn’t know what the story was – until I started to recognize it as my own, these reimagined fragments of my childhood.”
The film crew shot many of the scenes just two blocks away from Abundance St., where Tillman was raised – and one block over from where her parents grew up. “This story mirrored my time as a child there, losing childhood friends and close family to gun violence – perceiving it to be normal, becoming numb to it,” Tillman adds. “This was and still is the reality of so many kids I grew up with in New Orleans, stomaching and wrestling with loss and violence, hopes and aspirations. Balancing dreams and survival on their two hands.
In addition to several screenings at festivals like Sound Unseen (2022), Black Femme Supremacy Film Festival (2022), and the Lone Star Film Festival (2022), the short also received the Audience and Jury Awards from the New Orleans Film Festival (2022), and Best Cinematography for a Narrative Short from the Tacoma Film Festival (2022). But with all these accolades, it’s time to talk about the film’s soundtrack – an avant-jazz-meets-soul original score co-composed and co-produced by Magna Carda and BLK ODYSSY, featuring a number of outstanding guest artists and musicians from Austin and across the South. And without a doubt, the music is also a character within the story, from the pulse of NOLA’s streets to the way music shapes the life and mind of young Javon.
In addition to premiering the track “Awakening” on your AMM host’s afternoon show on KUTX 98.9, you can join Magna Carda and singer/songwriter/dance artist Grace Sorensen for a live little trumpet soundtrack premiere this Thursday night, Jan. 26, at Firehouse Lounge. Doors at 9 p.m., and surprise guests will be joining the party.