NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans musician Shamarr Allen wants to make the streets of New Orleans safer by giving kids free trumpets in exchange for guns.
"The trumpet has always been my escape from everything around me, the trumpet saved me from getting caught up in a lot of those things," Allen said.
He decided he wanted to use his talents to try and help kids after hearing the news of a 9 year old shot and killed in the 7th Ward a week ago
"I have a 9 year old son, you know," Allen said.
Growing up in the Lower 9th Ward, he said it hit close to home.
"I know they aren't bad kids and I know they want help I know they want to do better so if I have a way to help I'm going to do that," Allen said.
What helped him growing up, was the trumpet.
"Once I played my first gig at 12 or 13 years old, I put a tip box in front of me in the French Quarter I realized 'okay I can do this.' Now, I'm traveling the world, this is my career because of that trumpet. So if it can do that for me, it can do that for someone else," he said.
Last week, Allen posted on Instagram, "To all the youth in New Orleans bring me a gun and I'll give you a trumpet. No questions asked."
"The biggest thing for me was how could I help, and I know I have these trumpets laying around," he said.
Allen is working with New Orleans police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson to safely collect the guns and hand them over to NOPD, no questions asked.
"Little kids started hitting me up and are like 'hey am I going to get in trouble and I'm like 'look no questions asked, you don't have to tell me anything so when I go to them, I don't have nothing to tell them," Allen said.
He's already exchanged four trumpets for guns and he'll purchase dozens more thanks to overwhelming support on a Go Fund Me account and sales from new 'Trumpet is my weapon' shirts.
"There's an opportunity for them to understand that the world offers a lot more than what you see every day when you walk out of your door," Allen said.
He hopes this exchange of violence for music can potentially change the direction of a child's life.
Allen said several musicians have agreed to offer free virtual lessons to these kids who are receiving the trumpets.