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A Musical Connection in Jeanerette: What’s Your Story

Posted: 7:32 AM, Dec 10, 2018
Updated: 2019-03-17 16:11:14-04

Sometimes, finding a story takes a little patience and a little luck.

But by hitting the road we soon found our way next door to the Jeanerette Museum, where we came across Yorel Bana.

Growing up in Opelousas in the late 50s, his parents worked in fields, picking cotton, planting sugar cane and sweet potatoes. It wasn’t until a move to Lafayette that Yorel began to play music.

“The kids graduated and I thought, ‘Man, there isn’t anything to do here,’ so I started taking lessons and playing the saxophone.”

Performances from the Blue Moon Saloon, to Artwalk and even The Wild Salmon got him noticed, and music soon would become his calling.

“I played there and something happened at the church. They asked me and I started playing at the church and now I’m a choir director at 4C’s Ministry.”

That was just the start of mixing music and ministry.

“I want to make a difference,” says Bana. “I don’t want to come over here and just work, I want to give back.”

And that difference is being felt beyond the borders of South Louisiana. Bana has been making frequent trips to Haiti to help teach children there to play the saxophone.

“When I go,  ask people for old instruments to let me take them down there and the kids love it.  It’s just like Christmas.”

Over the last few years, Yorel has gone to Haiti to help teach music and fix instruments, bringing music to kids both overseas and here in Acadiana.

“In a matter of weeks, I have them playing. People say how do you do that? I say these kids want to learn.”

Bana has a love for teaching music and he believes that everyone has something to offer a child when it comes to education.  Whether it’s a steady hand or a “don’t do this I have been there, I walked that mile” stuff like that.

Eventually, the conversation turned from music to other forms of help.

“Sometimes the father’s working, sometimes he’s not in the home. I try and find out what I can do or let the kids know that they’re not out there alone,” says Bana.

And Bana says there is one thing that we can all do to help give back to our children. Be a mentor.

“You can tell a kid what to do but if he don’t see you doing it he isn’t going to do it.”

Before we left Yorel, he offered one last piece of advice.

“Love one another. That’s just it, that’s just me. With that, I think, you can open up and you can talk. Don’t expect anything out of nobody just talk.”

On our next ‘What’s Your Story,’ we head to Vermilion Parish.