The Kennedy Center

Jamal Gray


Jamal Gray is a musician, organizer, and curator based in Washington, DC. In 2017 he founded the Uptown Art House, a creative incubator for progressive Artists and Activists, where he serves as Co-Director. As leader of avant garde jazz troupe Nag Champa Art Ensemble, the D.C. native has used his ingenuity to bridge the gap between the city’s underground art and music scenes. Gray brings his unique conceptual perspective when transforming recognized venues such as The John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts, Smithsonian American Art Museum and Capital Fringe, down to unconventional spaces such as warehouses and open lots.

Upcoming Performances

Video 2/3/2019: Uptown Arts House presents Home: A Suite for Gil Scott Heron

DC-based creative agency and multimedia arts collective Uptown Art House pays tribute to the work of Musician, Poet, Composer, Activist and Educator, Gil Scott Heron. The Harlem native, and once DC resident, was a product of the Black Arts & Literary Movements of the 1960s & 70s, and served as inspiration for generations to follow. Gil Scott Heron used contemporary styles of Jazz, Soul, Blues and Funk as a sonic bed for his lyrics, which were poignant and often humorous examinations of the social and political climate of the times.  One of his seminal works with co-creator Brian Jackson, Winter in America, was created while both artists occupied a house in Washington’s historic Logan Circle, just a stones’ throw away from the White House.

DC based experimental Jazz troupe Nag Champa Art Ensemble, will make their return to the Millennium Stage, joined by notable members of the new artistic resurgence coined as the Uptown Renaissance, Yaya Bey, Meche Korrect and Nate Greski.


Watch Past Performances

Video 3/15/2018: DIRECT CURRENT: Jamal Gray & Uptown Art House

The Landing is an immersive piece of speculative fiction conveyed through the mediums of sound, movement, and video. An audio-visual exploration presented by Jamal Gray and Uptown Art House, featured players include Maps Glover, Maya Sun, Joe Smokes Wisdom, Ra Nubi, Ashley Shey, and Yacine Fall, with original core from Jamal Gray of the Nag Champa Art Ensemble.

Presented as part of the Kennedy Center's DIRECT CURRENT inaugural season. For more information on the season, please click HERE.

Video 1/1/2017: Jamal Gray & Nag Champa Tribute to yasiin bey

D.C. musician and WPFW-FM programmer Jamal Gray curates a tribute performance in honor of lyrical artist yasiin bey (formerly known as Mos Def) and his retirement from the music business, which coincides with his three-night farewell concert event here at the Kennedy Center through January 2. The show features experimental jazz outfit Nag Champa Art Ensemble, Oshun, The Cornel West Theory, DJ Underdog, and other special guests. Words, Beats & Life is the official presentation partner for this event.

Jamal Gray