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From Natchez To New York: Olu Dara     

Olu Dara (born Charles Jones III in Natchez in 1941) is an American cornetist, guitarist and singer. He first became known as a jazz musician, playing alongside avant-garde musicians such as David Murray, Henry Threadgill, and Art Blakey.

His first album under his own name, 1998's In the World: From Natchez to New York, 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.

Rapper Nas (Nasir Jones) is Dara's son. He encouraged his father to record the music he was playing with his band, and guested on a track on In the World. Dara played the cornet on the track "Life's A B***h" from Nas's debut album Illmatic in 1994. In 2004, his vocals and trumpet were featured on Nas's single "Bridging the Gap", from his album Street's Disciple.

He was given the name "Olu Dara" by a Yoruba priest when he returned to America. He has traveled throughout Africa and Europe. The literal translation of the name means God is good.

Mr. Dara is also an accomplished playwright and actor, staging Blues Rooms to strong acclaim in New York City and Fairfax, Virginia during the 1990s.

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