photo / Jerry Moran, Native Orleanian Fine Photography Copyright 2011
Hailing from the Midwest with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio, Television and Film from the University of Wisconsin- Madison and a Masters in Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Luther Gray settled in to New Orleans with such ease that one might easily mistake him for a native. This drumming sensation has created two major musical groups: Percussion Incorporated and Bamboula 2000, for which he has won the Big Easy Music Award in the World Music Category twice. He is also credited with the founding of the Congo Square Foundation, which began in 1989. The goal of the Congo Square Foundation is to bring cultural activities and drumming back to the historic Congo Square in New Orleans. In 1994, the foundation was successful in registering Congo Square on the National Register of Historic Places.
Gray began studying percussion while completing his undergraduate degree and, since 1971, has performed with African dance companies, jazz ensembles, funk groups, theatre productions, and films. Gray’ s experience is diverse, having played with master drummers including Chief Bey and Mor Thiam, dancers and choreographers such as Ferne Caulker-Bronson and Katherine Dunham, and jazz greats Jimmy Cheatham, Phil Cohran, Buddy Montgomery, Donald Harrison, Jr., and Hannibal Lokumbe.
Throughout his career, Gray has had over 50,000 students in the United States and Canada. He believes that through musical education youth will be more inclined to follow a “ Culture of Life,” as opposed to a “ Culture of Death.” Gray has traveled to several countries in Africa and Asia as well as to the Caribbean and Europe through his musical career. He feels that experiencing other cultures allows him to relate to people in a way that provides for greater understanding, respect, and unity.
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Images from the “The New Generation Jam in Congo Square” last Sunday which was presented by The Positive Vibrations Foundation and the Congo Square Foundation. The day started with a very delicious lunch over at Golden Feather Mardi Gras Indian Gallery and Coffeehouse at 704 North Rampart St which is run by Naimah and Shaka Zulu. After lunch, Shaka gave a VERY informative and educational lecture to the kids et al., on the culture and traditions of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians. I would strongly encourage anyone interested in this topic to stop in at the Golden Feather. After lunch we proceeded across the street to Congo Square for the “jam” which was well attended and a blast! We were joined by Big Chief Alfred Doucette, Second Chief David Montana, musicians, locals and visitors from all over. A group picture was taken that is available for purchase through the Positive Vibrations Foundation, email , Michael Lamendola