Heartland Hero brings jazz center to north Omaha

Heartland Heroes: North Omaha Music & Arts
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 4:26 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Dana Murray is putting his talents on display at the North Omaha Music and Arts building at the corner of 24th and Lake, formerly Love’s Jazz and Art Center.

You could say the professional percussionist is the heartbeat of this place. It’s an area of the city that has a lot of history. The Jewell building nearby hosted many of the jazz greats in the Dreamland ballroom dating back to the 1920s.

These days Murray is moving the ball forward with big dreams for the organization known as NOMA.

“It’s really a collaborative space for young musicians. I say collaborative because it brings in young musicians and sets a high bar,” Murray said.

NOMA has been in the building for nearly five months. Tuesday is contemporary night. Monday is jazz night. There are also master classes.

“We’re a music academy but really what we are teaching is life skills with music being the catalyst. We are creating critical thinking,” Murray said.

Dana Murray is back home in Omaha after an impressive career as a professional musician. The south Omaha high school graduate went to Berklee College of Music in Boston on a scholarship and later moved to New York City where he played with such big names as Wynton Marsalis and Norah Jones.

The hustle and bustle of being a professional musician eventually gave way to a desire to settle down and return. He came back to Omaha to raise his son.

So now he is helping shape the next generation of musicians at NOMA. The nonprofit started about two years ago. Murray hopes to expand at 24th and Lake streets by building on the vacant lot next door and having a large recording studio. He has already put in a top-notch sound system.

For Murray, this is his way of paying it forward. He has already seen the bright lights and big cities. For his efforts to not only make music but shape young minds and show them the future, he is a 6 News Heartland Hero.