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The Spirit of New Orleans Is in Its Music

For many music fans, it has been hard to hear the dramatic stories coming out of New Orleans and not think about the city's rich cultural heritage. New Orleans is steeped in music, from the street parades of Mardi Gras to smoky blues bars and the brass bands that march in jazz funerals.

The flooding sparked by Hurricane Katrina has resonated on several levels with folklorist Nick Spitzer, host of the roots-music program American Routes on public radio. Spitzer and his family evacuated the day before the storm hit -- his home and office are both in New Orleans.

For nearly two weeks, Spitzer has been producing a post-storm version of his show from member station KRVS in Lafayette, La., where he is staying with friends.

And as he has watched conditions in New Orleans grow increasingly desperate, Spitzer has kept on playing music -- much of it devoted to his beleaguered city. He shares some of his selections with Melissa Block.

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As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.