Soul Rebels honed their skills where most New Orleans brass bands do—in the street. But by the time they were a functioning unit, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band had already broken out as an international touring act. That band's success showed Soul Rebels a New Orleans brass band could not only have a contemporary sound, but it could also have a place on stage. Although the Dirty Dozen had updated the brass band tradition with elements of R&B and funk, Soul Rebels took it a step further, incorporating hip-hop, especially through half-sung, half-rapped lyrics. "Most of our originals have vocals," says LeBlanc. "You wouldn't have done that in a traditional brass band."
Soon, Soul Rebels' contagious originals and updated takes on standards won them a loyal local audience. They began rocking some of New Orleans' most beloved live music venues. A chance gig opening for the Neville Brothers got them a real start—and an official name. It was youngest brother Cyril Neville who first called them "Soul Rebels," a band that strived to incite positive change in its treasured musical heritage.
Since those days, the band has settled on a seven-piece lineup, building a career around an eclectic live show that harnesses the power of horns and drums in the party-like atmosphere of a dance club.