He was one of the best children to ever be a child. Studious. Big-hearted. Responsible. A gifted sousaphonist, with a smile that lit up a room.
Two weeks ago, he got his driver’s license. For graduation, his brothers and cousins and daddy had gotten him a used Jeep. He was almost done ironing out the insurance and registration issues. But he didn’t even get to drive it.
On Monday, he was shot — for nothing, by an unknown gunman — as he rode home from a theater class at Anthony Bean Theater.
He wasn’t an actor. Had never aspired to be one. But his entire crew of friends got jobs through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. The program placed him and his friend Trell into the hands of one of the town’s theater legends, Anthony Bean.
Before the first day, they were nervous. They wondered whether they should ask to work backstage.
Then Bean came over and talked with them. They were inspired.
“They understood me and they were trying,” said Bean, who felt an instant stage presence upon meeting Revell. His staff felt it too. “We were all excited. They had a look. He was a handsome young man. I told him that he had the look, the kind of face for this business.”
At home, after a day at the theater, Revell bragged about his job placement. “Other kids may be working but we get to learn all day,” he said, as he wrote out a monologue by hand.
He’d just graduated from McDonogh 35 High School after attending New Harmony High School for three years, where principal Sunny Summers said that she always went to him whenever she needed student leadership and guidance.
“He kept other kids on the straight and narrow. Students looked up to him so much. His sense of calm. And his seriousness. I think that’s why he had so much success.”
Though his college admissions process had gotten a little delayed by the pandemic, he decided last week that he was going to try and attend Southern University in Baton Rouge in the fall, along with his girlfriend, Malae. That sort of quick decision-making was possible because of years of hard work that had earned him straight As and a strong ACT score.
Everything seemed possible. Outside his graduation, his brothers Revert and Revon Andrews and his cousins brought their brass band and played as the graduates walked out. There is an image from that moment where Revell is lifted into the air, swinging around, with a big smile on his face.
The picture of potential.
A friend magnet
On Monday, he’d gone to the Anthony Bean program and delivered his monologue. It was about a teen who struggled to learn. “I try my hardest in school, but I am always passing by the skin of my teeth,” said Andrews, as he stood on stage at the Southern University campus in New Orleans, an A-student over-achiever delivering a narrative about a child who didn’t have those abilities.
That was him, putting himself into the shoes of others. Seeing a way to be kind when others might be harsh. Not that he couldn’t rib – he ribbed with the best of them. He clowned. He second-lined. When he and his friends swam at the Stallings Gentilly pool recently, they took a video of him sliding down the playground slide. A happy go-lucky young man with the world in front of him.
Because his father, trombonist Revert “Peanut” Andrews — part of the sprawling, celebrated Andrews family — is often on the road touring with their cousin Glen David Andrews, Revell began staying at my house with my son Hector. Some might say that I helped raise him. But he didn’t need much raising. He arrived good and grown, an old man in a young man’s body.
We were so lucky to have him. Revell was a magnet that drew everyone to us. Most days, we’d have at least five people there, part of the same regular crew who also kept a group-text going all day: Nigel, Dook, Trell, Tommy, Mark, Rance, Kewayne, Tyran, K’Shawn. If the group left, it was usually to get their hair twisted by Nigel’s sister, at his house. They didn’t really go anywhere else. When Revell was home, if he wasn’t on the phone with Malae, he was focused on music: studying marching-band videos or listening to NBA Youngboy or Lil Kee.
Our little group was not naïve about the city and its sinister level of gun violence. It was by design that they stayed home and out of the way. They wanted more in life. But at the most basic level, they wanted to live.
“I got you.”
On Sunday, when I had to leave suddenly to go visit my ailing mother in Minnesota, I placed the keys for my Jeep in Revell’s hands as I got into the Uber. He and Hector’s girlfriend Jacey were the only licensed drivers, so I asked them if they would get everyone to and from work while I was gone.
“We got you, Ms. K.,” Revell said.
And they did. On Monday, at a little bit before 3 p.m., Jacey drove my Jeep to pick up Trell and Vell from the theater program: Trell sat in the back and Vell in the front. They were feeling good about the monologues they’d done that day. The mood in the car was good.
Next stop was to get Nigel at his summer job. But first, they stopped to get gas at the Shell station at the corner of Franklin and St. Claude avenues. There, they noticed that a man was staring at them hard, but they didn’t know him, so they just got in the car and left.
Others nearby recognized the shooter as a frequent, though problematic customer who had been barred from entering some businesses. He must have thought he saw someone else when he saw Revell.
Because when the Jeep drove out of the gas station and turned toward the McDonald’s, the man apparently got into a car. But the kids in the Jeep didn’t see that.
So, when the stoplight turned red, Jacey stopped the Jeep. She told Revell what she had going on for the rest of the day and what he might need to do.
“I got you, you’re straight,” he told her, with a smile. “Full teeth,” she recalled later.
Then she heard a boom and saw him slump. The security cameras from the gas station – which also captured a very clear image of the suspect – show that the same man drove next to them in the bike line, shot once at Revell through the passenger window and sped off.
Revell did not survive. He was only 18. The city’s persistent gun violence has never seemed more senseless.
He is survived by his parents, Revert Andrews Sr. and Deanna Powell Andrews, three older brothers: Dana Williams, Revon Andrews, Revert Jr. Andrews, and his little brother, Devello Andrews.