Olu Dara

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Olu Dara
Birth name Charles Jones III
Born (1941-01-12) January 12, 1941 (age 77)
Natchez, Mississippi, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Vocals, guitar, cornet
Years active 1960s–present
Labels Atlantic
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.


Olu Dara was born Charles Jones III in Natchez, Mississippi.[1][2]

In 1963, he moved to New York City and changed his name to Olu Dara[3][4], which means "God is good" in the Yoruba language.[4] 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][3]

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).[4]


As leader[edit]

With Material

  • Memory Serves (1981)
  • The Third Power (1991)

As sideman[edit]

With Charles Brackeen

With Rhys Chatham

  • 1984 Factor X
  • 1987 Die Donnergötter (The Thundergods)

With Carlos Garnett

  • 1975 Let This Melody Ring On
  • 1977 Fire

With Corey Harris

  • 2002 Downhome Sophisticate
  • 2005 Daily Bread

With Craig Harris

With David Murray

With Nas

  • 1994 Illmatic
  • 2002 God's Son
  • 2004 Bridging the Gap
  • 2004 Street's Disciple

With Jamaaladeen Tacuma

  • 1983 Show Stopper
  • 1984 Renaissance Man

With Henry Threadgill

With James Blood Ulmer

With Cassandra Wilson

With others


  1. ^ a b Dara, Olu (Winter 1998). "Olu Dara". Bomb (Interview) (62). Interview with Tracie Morris – via bombsite.com. 
  2. ^ "Nas' Interactive Family Tree". Finding Your Roots. PBS. 2014-10-29. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  3. ^ a b Kelsey, Chris. "Olu Dara". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 October 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c Dreisinger, Baz (5 December 2004). "Nas and His Dad's Jazz". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 31 October 2017. 
  5. ^ "Olu Dara | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 October 2017. 

External links[edit]