Listen to a radio story about Dinerral Shavers I produced for All Things Considered, in January 2007, one week after his death.
Dinerral Shavers played snare drum with the Hot 8 Brass Band, joining the group following the departure of Derrick Tabb in the late 1990s. He grew up in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, playing in the Lawless High School band, as well as the Little Jazzmen, a brass band he formed with classmates Joseph Williams (trombone) and Shamarr Allen. The Little Jazzmen mostly played for tips in the French Quarter until the three musicians were recruited into the Hot 8 in 1996.
Dinerral played for several years with Hot 8 while working various jobs, including at the docks along the Mississippi River. In addition to playing snare drum, Dinerral also composed tunes for the Hot 8, including “Get Up,” which was recorded on the band’s 2005 album Rock with the Hot 8.
Dinerral returned to New Orleans and began working as a substitute French teacher at L. E. Rabouin High School in Central City, and he convinced the principal to let him start a marching band.
Listen to this radio story about band students at Rabouin responding to Dinerral’s death.
On the afternoon of December 28, 2006, Dinerral played a jazz funeral with the Hot 8 before driving to New Orleans’ Sixth Ward to pick up his wife and her stepson. As Dinerral’s family entered the vehicle, a nearby group of teenagers approached and began firing at the car. Dinerral was able to drive his family to safety, but sustained gunshot wounds and died at Elmwood hospital.
Dinerral’s funeral was played by the Hot 8 and attended by members of nearly every brass band in the city. His murder was part of an intense wave of violent crime following Hurricane Katrina, which shocked the city and inspired civic protests in the form of silent parades to city hall. The Hot 8 has since had several changes in membership, but Sammy Williams is most often the snare drummer.
After Dinerral’s death, his sister Nakita Shavers helped found the Silence is Violence organization. With her mother Yolanda Adams, Nakita also runs the Dinerral Shavers Educational Fund, of which I’m a board member.
My friend Christopher Kirsch took these sepia photos at Dinerral’s jazz funeral: