Attendees to the upcoming 2018 Essence Festival and all family reunions held in the city are encouraged to take the tour, which includes a visit to the only Black-owned street in New Orleans.
Mikhala Iversen is a singer, international recording artist, aka Jazz Muffin, but most of all she has a passion for telling the true story of New Orleans past, not so often told amongst the swamp, ghosts, booze-tours and sages of one of the most visited cities in the world; New Orleans.
Four years ago, she established her own tour company All Bout Dat Tours LLC, which provides top of the line transportation for Black Heritage and Jazz Tours, educational tours for schools, educators, family reunions and of course, international tours since Mikhala speaks four languages. All of her tours are registered with the New Orleans Conventions and Visitors Bureau, and with her Danish/American upbringing in Copenhagen, she now tells the dramatic story of New Orleans, its music, exploitation, tragedy, progress and humor.
She refers to herself as an “Afropean” a person of Black and European Parentage, born and raised in Copenhagen. In her home her ‘uncles’ were jazz greats such as Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Clark Terry, Kenny Drew, Teddy Wilson and her “aunts” were Josephine Baker, Nancy Wilson, Dame Etta Cameron and Eartha Kitt.
The home was always full of stories, music, ancient tales and the mixture of pain and happiness of what mattered for black lives then. Especially for the black musicians, who settled down in Europe to live respected careers as the artists they were hailed to contrast with their lives in the US. “My mother, Rosita Thomas had her family roots in Arkansas and was a fine jazz-singer and with a special talent for soul food,” and her father, Henrik W. Iversen, former head of DR TV Entertainment & Drama, is still Head of The Ben Webster Foundation, Jazz Radio host and lecturer in jazz,” she explains.
Ernie Wilkins, famed arranger and composer for Count Basie, named her mother the ‘Charlie Parker of the Kitchen’. That also made home away from home for the expatriate Americans.
This “Afropean” storyteller, has meshed her life from two worlds, studied the history of Louisiana intensely and is a licensed tourism guide in New Orleans.
Mikhala is proud to be back to tell the truth with her Afropean approach and insight, that differs from what is usually told. “The heritage and history of my people I unapologetic share with tourists and though the stories of our enslavement in this country is hard to hear, the truth of how we have overcome is in my DNA, literally,” she said.