NOMA sets the tone for arts in North Omaha

There’s a new sound coming from the former Love’s Jazz and Art Center on 24th and Lake.
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 7:31 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - There’s a new sound coming from the former Love’s Jazz and Art Center on 24th and Lake.

North Omaha Music and Arts or NOMA is now setting the pace for the next generation of musicians and adding to the history of North Omaha’s historic jazz district.

Back in the days of black and white television, the jazz greats played in Omaha. Many made stops in the Jewell Building’s Dreamland Ballroom where crowds of people would dance to the music all night long.

Now there’s a new soundtrack for the next chapter of North Omaha’s music history.

Dana Murray is the composer.

“A lot of times we dwell in nostalgia and something that’s symbolic that makes you feel warm and fuzzy from the past,” said Murray.

Murray is the executive director of North Omaha Music and Arts Academy, he plans to reach out and inspire the next generation of musicians.

“In these neighborhoods, we have a lot of inspiring rappers ok so let’s offer some creative writing classes, let’s create outlets for them to develop their talent give them something…allow them to have an informed opinion.”

Education will be a big part of the academy. There will be classes teaching the next chapter of North Omaha’s music history but Murray points out that not everyone who goes through the academy will be able to make a living through music.

“Some will and we’re going to create a lot of great musicians but the skills that you develop in this academy you will be able to apply to whatever it is you do maybe we have doctors, we have lawyers, we have businessmen, we have builders.”

The plan is to expand and renovate the current building, it will include classroom space, a 450-seat music venue, and the largest recording studio in the city.

“Just to give a rough estimate it’s going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million dollars to make this into the vision that we’ve put forth.”

NOMA is already bringing music back to North 24th Street. The first NOMAfest brought more than a dozen bands to the historic jazz district.

Murray is hoping this new sound coming from North Omaha will be heard throughout the city.

“If we want commerce flowing through these streets we have to invite the rest of Omaha to partake in what we have to offer and art and culture that’s an easy sell for this community.”

The academy will also feature dance, music production, and engineering classes.

Murray says we should look at the academy as a Boys & Girls Club for music.

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