Branford Marsalis

NEW YORK - JUNE 7: Branford Marsalis attends the Samsung Hope fo

Marsalis in 2011, photo by Debby Wong/

Place of Birth: Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, U.S.

Date of Birth: August 26, 1960

Ethnicity: African-American, Louisiana Creole [African, French], distant German

Branford Marsalis is an American saxophonist, composer, and bandleader. He is the son of Dolores (Ferdinand), a jazz singer, and Ellis Louis Marsalis, Jr., a jazz pianist and educator. His siblings are jazz musicians Jason Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis III, and Delfeayo Marsalis. He is married to Nicole.

A DNA test taken by the show Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2012) stated that Branford’s genetic ancestry is:

*62% African
*31% European
*7% Native American

Branford’s paternal grandfather was Ellis Louis Marsalis (the son of Simmie/Simeon Black/Marsalis and Rosa Gayden). Branford’s grandfather Ellis was born in Mississippi, and was a prominent businessperson and social activist. Marsalis was the surname of Simmie’s stepfather. Simeon’s mother was Elizabeth Montgomery.

Branford’s paternal grandmother was named Florence Marie Robertson. Florence was born in New Roads, Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana.

Branford’s maternal grandfather was Delfeayo F. Ferdinand (the son of Louis Ferdinand and Helen Breaux/Breaud). Delfeayo was of Louisiana Creole descent. Louis was the son of Louis Ferdinand and Celina. Helen was the daughter of Delfeayo Breaux and Louisa Malberry.

Branford’s maternal grandmother was Leona Learson (the daughter of Richard Learson and Clotilde/Clothilde Eugene). Leona was born in Louisiana. Richard’s grandparents were Johann/John Reinhard Learson, a German immigrant, and a free woman of color, Mertay Valentine. Clothilde was the daughter of Mary Rose Dejan.


Genealogy of Branford Marsalis (through his brother, Wynton Marsalis) –

Genealogy of Branford Marsalis (focusing on his father’s side) –

Genealogy of Branford’s father (focusing on his own father’s side) –

2 Responses

  1. Texture2000 says:

    Branford and Wynton’s profiles here need to be updated. D.N.A. tests were done on the PBS show, “Finding your roots, with Henry Louis Gates Jr.” (S1 E1) and they found out that they are part German. They discuss this at 15 minutes in and again at 31 minutes in. The German name they are related to is shown to be “John Reinhard Learson”.

  2. bablah says:

    Delfeayo Ferdinand was of Louisiana Creole descent.

    *Florence Marie Robertson

    *Louis Ferdinand and Helen Breaux/Breaud

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