Even before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Cajun musician and Louisiana native Tab Benoit was writing music about coastal erosion, likening the state’s retreating coast to a modern-day Atlantis. The home where his grandparents once lived is today under water.
Between 1932 and 2000, Louisiana lost 1,900 square miles of land; during 2005 alone, 118 square miles were lost. Benoit blames the damage on the practices of oil companies. For nearly a century, the industry has installed rigs in swampland and dug canals through natural deltas, leaving land weakened by salt water and prone to flooding.
Benoit founded the nonprofit Voice of the Wetlands in 2003, uniting artists, local leaders, and volunteers. In the wake of the BP oil disaster, Voice of the Wetlands recruited volunteers in relief efforts. Benoit helped to raise $300,000 by performing in the May 2010 Gulf Aid Benefit concert.