Congo Square Preservation Society

Contributors

Created in 1989 by Luther Gray, a percussionist and art educator, the Congo Square Preservation Society reinvented the traditional drum circles in Congo Square. The group aims to both preserve the historical significance and bring it into the current day music scene.

Performances and Healing

Every Sunday there are weekly drum circles from 2-4 where musicians, dancers, supporters, and civilians all gather together in a celebration of the history of Congo Square through carrying on the tradition of Sunday gatherings that the slaves used to practice 300 years ago.

In one such performance, a drum circle formed with 9 men on various drum types, 2 women on a large bass drum, a man on guitar, a trumpet player, a saxophone player, and about 15 women dancing in the center of the gathering. Various leaders emerged in each section, as two of the women led the main dances and a few of the drummers kept everyone else in rhythm. According to Gray, the circles “have gotten much bigger and always keep evolving” since the group’s founding. [1]

Gray related in an interview, “It is not a performance . . . this is a place of healing and deep spirituality, and we are all here to celebrate our history. Congo Square is not just some living history exhibit meant to stay stagnant, it is meant to function as a place that is not just something from the past. We honor the past, but utilize our culture for social change” [2]

The Founder

Gray has also founded Percussion Incorporated and Bamboula 2000.

Works Cited

  • Luther Gray (musician and founder of Congo Square Foundation), interviewed by Carolyn Weaver. Personal Interview, Congo Square. 4 December 2011.
  • Luther Gray (musician and founder of Congo Square Foundation), interviewed by Carolyn Weaver. Personal Interview, Congo Square. 4 December 2011.

This page was last modified on 27 April 2012, at 03:08

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Congo Square

835 N. Rampart St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA