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Crosscurrents

Celebrating life with the Green Street Mortuary Band

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Image cropped and reused from flickr user David Brossard under CC license
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Green Street Mortuary Funeral Procession

Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote a poem about them.  Amy Tan’s mother was serenaded by them as she lay in state.  Jessica Mitford’s memorial procession was led by them. And more than 300 Chinese families a year hire the Green Street Mortuary Band to give their loved ones a proper and musical send-off through the streets of Chinatown. The band traces its roots back to 1911 and the Cathay Chinese Boys Band, the first marching group in Chinatown.

The Green Street Mortuary Band, made up of mostly Italians playing Christian hymns and dirges, accompanies traditional Chinese funeral processions through the streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Tubas, gongs, firecrackers and spirit money tossed in the air, ward off evil spirits and carry on a tradition that dates back to 1911.

When a person dies, it's believed that their soul is hovering around the body—but it's displaced.

The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) are producers of the duPont-Columbia Award-winning, NPR series, Hidden Kitchens, and two Peabody Award-winning NPR series, Lost & Found Sound and The Sonic Memorial Project. Hidden Kitchens, heard on Morning Edition, explores the world of secret, unexpected, below-the-radar cooking across America—how communities come together through food. The series inspired Hidden Kitchens: Stories, Recipes, and More from NPR's The Kitchen Sisters, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year that was also nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Writing on Food. The Hidden Kitchens audio book, narrated by Academy Award winner, Frances McDormand, received a 2006 Audie Award.