64 Parishes

Luther Gray and Bamboula 2000

Percussionist Luther Gray (born 1952) founded the Congo Square Preservation Society in 1994, which successfully campaigned for the New Orleans site to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. Since then Gray has worked to bring drumming and other cultural activities back to Congo Square. Bamboula 2000, a percussion group Gray founded, performs regularly in Congo Square and across the country, educating school groups and the general public about the traditions of African-style drumming and percussion.

Luther Gray: The Power of Congo Square
1 minute, 26 seconds
This short video, Luther Gray: The Power of Congo Square, can be used as a point of entry for students in a variety of K-12 classroom settings. Use the below activities to kick off your study of New Orleans’s historic Congo Square and Luther Gray and Bamboula 2000.

Activity 1
Before watching the short video Luther Gray: The Power of Congo Square, lead students in a brief discussion on the meaning and role of traditions in their lives and the lives of others.

Discussion Questions
What does tradition mean to you?
What are some traditions that you see being practiced in Louisiana?
What kinds of traditions matter in your community? In your family?

Activity 2
Introduce Luther Gray using the brief biography included above. Watch the short video Luther Gray: The Power of Congo Square, and lead students in a discussion on Congo Square.

Discussion Questions
Why does Luther Gray feel a connection to Congo Square?
What kinds of connections does Congo Square have to the history of American music and dance? To the history of New Orleans? Can you think of other places in Louisiana or New Orleans connected to the history of music (jazz, Cajun, rock and roll, zydeco, etc.)?
Do you feel a connection to Congo Square? Why or why not?

Luther Gray and Bamboula 2000

Want to dive deeper into the world of Luther Gray and Bamboula 2000 and the history of Congo Square? Download the Luther Gray and Bamboula 2000 Louisiana Musical Legends lesson plan.

Target Grade Level: 2nd Grade
Content Areas: Reading and Writing / English Language Arts, Social Studies
Social Studies Standards – Louisiana: 2.1.2; 2.1.3, 2.1.4; 2.1.5; 2.1.6

Luther Gray and Bamboula 2000 Lesson


About the Louisiana Musical Legends Project
The Louisiana Musical Legends project is the first in a series of “Aunt Dorothy’s Teacher Toolkits” developed by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities to showcase new and engaging tools for teaching core curriculum concepts through the lens of Louisiana’s culture. Made possible through the generous support of retired music teacher Dorothy Hanna in partnership with First Lady of Louisiana Donna Edwards and the nine regional Louisiana arts councils, each Louisiana Musical Legends unit includes a brief musician biography, an educator-created lesson plan, and an original musician-focused video—all designed for classroom use. Featured musicians hail from across the state and include Luther Gray and Bamboula 2000 (Greater New Orleans), Nellie Lutcher (Southwest Louisiana), Tony Joe White (Northeast Louisiana), Amanda Shaw (Northshore), Susan Aysen (Bayou Parishes), Kenny Neal (Greater Baton Rouge), Little Walter (Central Louisiana), Leadbelly (Northwest Louisiana), and Nathan Williams Jr. (Acadiana).


Louisiana Musical Legends