The Whole Gritty City

DVD Release: February 15, 2014
The Whole Gritty City


Directors of three New Orleans marching bands prepare students to perform in the Mardi Gras parades. What emerges is a dramatic, music-filled documentary of children struggling to reach adulthood in one of America’s most impoverished and violent cities. Navigating the urban minefield through moments of setback, loss, discovery and triumph, these children and their adult leaders show the power and resilience of a culture.

Dove Review

The city of New Orleans is known for its music, Mardi Gras, the parades and the terrible time after hurricane Katrina. There are many children and families who have experienced losing their homes, loved ones, and life as they knew it. Not only has hurricane Katrina changed their lives, but also made way for the terrible senseless murders in poverty stricken areas.

“The Whole Gritty City” is a documentary about children who march in the bands as part of the Mardi Gras parades. Three bands are introduced: Rabouin High School, O. Perry Walker High School, and The Roots of Music marching bands. These kids have endured hardships, but they still hear the music. Their directors try to teach them that they have a purpose in life and can hold their heads high. Getting them involved keeps them from joining gangs, using drugs or getting involved with other destructive activities. Being part of a band gives them pride and encourages them to strive for a better life. The movie demonstrates how hard it is for children in the great music city.

A very enlightening and encouraging film about changing young people’s lives. Unfortunately, due to some content, this movie is not Dove approved.

Content Description

Faith: None
Integrity: None
Sex: Shadow of a woman making sexual gestures.
Language: D-2; Dang-1; F-3.
Violence: Discussion about the murder of a teacher and an assistant director; shooting at a football game; fight between band members; breaking bottles.
Drugs: People drinking on sides of parade.
Nudity: Mild cleavage; shadow of naked woman behind curtain; scantily dressed woman on horse.
Other: Funeral scene shows man in casket.


Company: Band Room Productions
Director: Richard Barber
Producer: Richard Barber
Genre: Documentary
Runtime: 89 min.
Starring: The Band directors: Derrick Tabb, Lawrence Rawlins, Wilbert Rawlins, Jr., Lonzie Jackson, Dinerral Shavers; The band students: Jaron Williams ("Bear"), Jazz Henry, Christopher Lee ("Skully"), Kirk Dugar, Brandon Franklin; Bruce Davenport, Jr. (New Orleans artist)
Reviewer: Donna Rolfe