LSU Health New Orleans Supports Musicians and Artists
April 06, 2022
Meet Cherice Harrison-Nelson
Cherice Harrison-Nelson is a Mardi Gras Indian Queen. She is the third generation, among five in her family, to carry on the Black New Orleans tradition of “masking Indian.” It’s a celebration of freedom and of telling your own story that involves many, many months of sewing intricate, narrative beadwork into powerfully colorful suits, usually revealed for the first time on Mardi Gras Day. The tradition is often described as an homage to the Native Americans who sheltered enslaved people of African descent in Louisiana’s early days.
Harrison-Nelson, however, doesn’t describe what she does as “masking.” Instead, as Queen of the Guardians of the Flame Maroon Society, she reveals herself through her art. This includes her own personal history of surviving breast cancer, sewn into her dress and proudly displayed on her body. As a patient of the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, which has connected uninsured and under-insured Louisiana performing artists with LSU healthcare services and more since 1998, Harrison-Nelson has also become a conduit to care for others in her community.
“I’ve been lucky, and some of us are not as lucky,” Harrison-Nelson said. “The clinic is committed to protecting not just people, but cultures, and African American cultures. They don’t provide just medical care but look after your overall quality of life. And as a breast cancer survivor, I’m alive. I’m alive! I tell myself that every day.”
LSU is the only healthcare system in the nation allied with a clinic that specifically serves musicians and artists. Further, LSU biotech and biomedical research continues to improve cancer detection and treatment in Louisiana every day.
“Our mission is clear, and more crucial now than ever before. Many musicians and culture bearers live gig to gig, and regardless of income or insurance, we help them access the health services they need to survive. Our long relationship with LSU Health is what’s made this possible. Our clinic is the bridge to improved and long-term wellness in our community.”- Jamilah Peters-Muhammad, dancer, singer, percussionist, and community outreach nurse for the New Orleans Musicians’ Assistance Foundation, which has connected uninsured and under-insured Louisiana artists with LSU Healthcare Network services through the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic since 1998