Trombone Shorty is the best-known moniker for Troy Andrews. He was born into a well-known New Orleans musical family in 1986. His grandfather, Jessie Hill, was a locally popular R&B recording artist. His older brother, James "12" Andrews, is a successful jazz trumpeter who was also an early mentor. Andrews began playing music at a very early age and was playing professionally at the age of five. He mastered trombone, trumpet, and drums, eventually choosing the trombone as his principal instrument and thus picking up his nickname. So advanced was he that, at the age of eight, a club in the city's Tremé district, where he was born and raised, was named Trombone Shorty's in his honor.


Andrews became a member of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts' (NOCCA) musical education program for high-school students, other graduates including Harry Connick, Jr., Nicholas Payton, and Wynton and Branford Marsalis. At NOCCA, Andrews took music theory, ear training, and instrumental instruction courses under Clyde Kerr, Jr. and Kent Jordan, among others. In 2003 he was one of five young musicians chosen as the subjects for a PBS television documentary and also performed in the network's nationally broadcast tribute to Louis Armstrong, directed by Wynton Marsalis. Outside his home town, Andrews has appeared with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and has performed with U2 and Green Day. He has also traveled extensively overseas, playing concerts and festivals in Cuba and Europe; he has appeared at the Vienna Jazz Festival, the North Sea Jazz Festival, and the Istanbul Jazz Festival.


As a recording artist, Andrews has appeared on Global Song of Kids, a collection of children's songs played in the style of New Orleans marching bands that was released in Japan. His first recording under his own name, Swingin' Gate, was issued in 2002 and featured several of his own compositions; it was acclaimed by jazz critics. This was followed in 2004 by The Same Pocket, Vol. 1 (by the BlueBrass Project) and 12 & Shorty (with his brother James' band); in 2005 by the Treme Records releases The End of the Beginning (by the Troy Andrews Quintet) and Orleans & Claiborne (by Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews & Orleans Avenue); and by four volumes of his performances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival entitled Live at Jazz Fest 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008. He also appeared on the club hit "Tufflove" on Galactic's Ya-Ka-May in 2010 before releasing his Verve Records debut, Backatown (on which he not only plays trombone but also sings and plays trumpet, keyboards, drums, and other percussion), under the Trombone Shorty moniker.