Olu Dara (born Charles Jones III in Natchez, Mississippi on 12 January 1941) is an American cornetist, guitarist and singer. He first became known as a jazzavant-garde musicians such as David Murray, Henry Threadgill, and Art Blakey. musician, playing alongside
His first album under his own name, 1998's In the World: From Natchez to New York, revealed another aspect of his musical personality: the leader and singer of a band immersed in African-American tradition, playing an eclectic mix of blues, jazz, and storytelling, with tinges of funk, African popular music and reggae. His second album Neighborhoods, with guest appearances by Dr John and Cassandra Wilson, followed in a similar vein.
Rapper Nas (Nasir Jones) is Dara's son. He encouraged his father to record the music he was playing with his band, and guested on "Jungle Jay" from In the World. Dara played the cornet on the track "Life's A Bitch" from Nas's debut album Illmatic in 1994. In 2004, his vocals and trumpet were featured on Nas's single "Bridging the Gap", from his album Street's Disciple.
He was given the name "Olu Dara," which literally translated means "God is good," by a Yoruba priest when he returned to America. Dara has traveled throughout Africa and Europe.
 As a Sideman
- David Murray - Flowers For Albert (1976)
- James Blood Ulmer - Are You Glad To Be In America? (1980)
- David Murray - Ming (1980), Home (1981)
- Henry Threadgill Sextet - When Was That? (1982), Just The Facts And Pass The Bucket (1983)
- David Murray Big Band - Live At Sweet Basil Vol. 1 & 2 (1984)
- Don Pullen - The Sixth Sense(1985)
- James Newton - The African Flower (1985)
- Kansas City Soundtrack (1995)
- Dirty Dozen Brass Band - Medicated Magic (2002) : vocal on "Junko Partner"
- The Be Good Tanyas - Chinatown (2003) : Cornet on "Horses" and "Junkie Song"
 Featured Compositions
- Cassandra Wilson - Days Aweigh (1987) : "Electromagnolia" (also with vocals and arrangement by Dara)
- Henry Threadgill Sextett - Easily Slip Into Another World (1987): "I Can't Wait Till I Get Home"
- Bob Stewart - Goin' Home (1989): "Bell And Ponce"
 Songs With Nas
- "Bridging The Gap" (Street's Disciple)
- "Jungle Jay" (In the World: From Natchez to New York)
- "Life's A Bitch" (Illmatic)
- "Street's Disciple" (Street's Disciple)
The song "Poppa Was A Player" off Lost Tapes was inspired by Nas' childhood times around Olu Dara.