Olu Dara

Last updated

Olu Dara
Birth nameCharles Jones III
Born (1941-01-12) January 12, 1941 (age 80)
Natchez, Mississippi
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, cornet
Years active1964–present
Labels Atlantic Records
Associated acts Nas, Bravehearts, AZ

Olu Dara Jones (born Charles Jones III, January 12, 1941) is an American cornetist, guitarist, and singer. He is the father of rapper Nas.

Contents

Early life

Olu Dara was born Charles Jones III January 12, 1941, in Natchez, Mississippi. [1] [2] His mother, Ella Mae, was born in 1911 in Canton, Mississippi. [2] His father, Charles Jones II, also born in Natchez, [2] was a travelling musician, and sang with The Melodiers, a vocal quartet with a guitarist. [3]

As a child, Dara took piano and clarinet lessons. He studied at Tennessee State University, initially a pre-med major, switching to music theory and composition. [3]

Career

From 1959 to 1964 he was a musician in the Navy, which he described as a priceless educational experience. [3]

In 1964, he moved to New York City and changed his name to Olu Dara, [4] [5] which means "God is good" in the Yoruba language. [5] In the 1970s and '80s he played alongside David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Hamiet Bluiett, Don Pullen, Charles Brackeen, James Blood Ulmer, and Cassandra Wilson. He formed two bands, the Okra Orchestra and the Natchezsippi Dance Band. [1] [4]

His first album, In the World: From Natchez to New York (1998), revealed another aspect of his musical personality: the leader and singer of a band immersed in African-American tradition, playing an eclectic mix of blues, jazz, and storytelling, with tinges of funk, African popular music, and reggae. His second album Neighborhoods , with guest appearances by Dr. John and Cassandra Wilson, followed in a similar vein.

Dara played on the album Illmatic (1994) by his son, rapper Nas, and on the song "Dance" (2002), also by Nas, and he sang on Nas's song "Bridging the Gap" (2004). [5]

Discography

As leader

With Material

As sideman

With Charles Brackeen

With Rhys Chatham

With Carlos Garnett

With Corey Harris

With Craig Harris

With David Murray

With Nas

With Jamaaladeen Tacuma

With Henry Threadgill

With James Blood Ulmer

With Cassandra Wilson

With others

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References

  1. 1 2 Dara, Olu (Winter 1998). "Olu Dara". Bomb (Interview) (62). Interviewed by Tracie Morris. Archived from the original on December 8, 2009 via bombsite.com.
  2. 1 2 3 Gates, Henry Louis Jr. (October 29, 2014). "Nas' Interactive Family Tree". Finding Your Roots. PBS. Archived from the original on December 10, 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 Skelly, Richard J. (January 30, 2002). "Olu Dara's Trip: From Natchez to New York". U.S. 1 . Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  4. 1 2 Kelsey, Chris. "Olu Dara". AllMusic. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  5. 1 2 3 Dreisinger, Baz (December 5, 2004). "Nas and His Dad's Jazz". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  6. "Olu Dara | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved October 31, 2017.