Sting, Badu Head Up New Orleans Jazz, Heritage Fest

Lenny Kravitz, Harry Connick Jr. part of gumbo of jazz, pop, soul, international acts set for late April, early May event.

Along with a hearty gumbo of lesser-known jazz, pop and soul musicians, such music stars as pop-rocker Sting and R&B singer Erykah Badu will highlight this year's New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, running April 28–30 and May 4–7.

The roster also includes traditional New Orleans favorites — such as Dr. John, the Meters and the Neville Brothers — and dozens of performers from around the world.

Badu, who scored a 1997 hit with the single "On and On" (RealAudio excerpt), kicks off the festival with an April 28 show at the Morris F.X. Jeff Municipal Auditorium. Badu's performance will be part of the festival's 31st annual evening concert series, which takes place at venues throughout New Orleans.

She's also scheduled to perform April 29 at the festival's main site, the Fair Grounds Race Course, about 10 miles from the city's famous French Quarter. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.

Sting, whose 1999 album Brand New Day (RealAudio excerpt of the title track) is at #45 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, will perform on the Race Course on April 30.

While big names will draw much of the attention — including rocker Lenny Kravitz and popular jazz singer Harry Connick Jr. — the festival still focuses on New Orleans' rich heritage of jazz, R&B and zydeco, with city mainstays Dr. John performing on April 28, the Meters on April 30 and the Neville Brothers on May 7.

This year's festival also hosts a broad range of international performers, including Nigerian juju star King Sunny Ade on May 7 and Cuban songo specialists Los Van Van on May 6.

Tickets are $15 a day in advance, $20 at the gate. Tickets for the Evening Concert Series range from $25–$35 and must be purchased in advance. For information on the festival, check out its Web site (

(Contributing Editor Robert L. Doerschuk contributed to this story.)