“We decided to go bust and do our regular set anyway,” Asylum Chorus founder and director Lucas Davenport recalls of the ensemble’s 2015 French Quarter Fest appearance. Rained out from their Sunday afternoon BMI Songwriter Stage set inside the Historic New Orleans Collection’s courtyard, the vanguard vocalists’ spontaneous, show-must-go-on spirit paid dividends. “Allen Toussaint walked by, stopped, tipped us, left and then came right back to watch the rest of the show,” Davenport adds. “That’s an all-time highlight for us.”

Davenport talks over coffee in the kitchen of the bright, cheerful Gentilly home of bandmate Amy Trail, whose husband and four-year-old son mill about the group’s standing weekly Tuesday lunch-hour(s) rehearsal with amicable ease. The gathering is another installment in what Trail jokingly describes as “a six-to-one rehearsal-to-gig ratio, an anomaly in New Orleans music.” Certainly the culmination of a unique artistic vision in a city brimming with them, the Asylum Chorus (the name recently abbreviated from St. Cecilia’s Asylum Chorus), began on November 11, 2011 (yep, 11/11/11) as “a one-off performance of New Orleans musicians who don’t normally sing unaccompanied,” Davenport explains. “We were invited to do a Sunday show at Preservation Hall of some spirituals and some sing-alongs. That’s all we ever intended to do. But everyone loved it so much that we decided to keep on doing it.”

The name change to simply Asylum Chorus came about not just because, as Davenport says with a laugh, “we were afraid of causing too much confusion in a town so heavily Catholic.” It marked a changing point for the band, now consisting of, in addition to Davenport and Trail, Sybil Shanell, Ashley Shabankareh, Melanie Gardner, Mike Cammarata, Roan Smith and Hannah Kreiger-Benson. With divergent influences from old-school funk to hip-hop to singer-songwriter to neo-soul, the re-branded, re-focused outfit is once again scheduled to appear on the BMI Songwriter Stage this French Quarter Fest. The Asylum Chorus’ eight singers will play musical chairs between their instrumentation of drums, bass, guitar and keys. While this 30-minute set will likely feature trademark a capella vocal harmonies floating behind the beat of classics such as “I’ll Fly Away” or “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?,” new songs recorded for a forthcoming EP could bring in the Quintron church-funk of “How Many More” to the dirty-blues field song of “In the Cane.”

“We’ve become a lot more focused on original material, because that’s what reflects all our disparate styles and that’s what’s interesting to us,” Davenport says. “We’re an original band as opposed to a spiritual homage. We know who we are now.”