Ozzie Osbourne, the British heavy metal vocalist, said a few weeks ago that he loved a rendition of “Crazy Train,” the first single from his 1980 debut solo album, Blizzard of Ozz, by a group of percussionists from Louisville, Ky. He then gave them $10,000 so they could continue their work, the Courier-Journal reports.
The Louisville Leopard Percussionists is a nonprofit organization that was launched as a 501(c)(3) organization in 2003. But its precursor had been around since 1993, thanks to the work of elementary school teacher Diane Downs, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Morehead State University. In the middle of her college career, Ms Downs took a year off to teach music in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
For the last 27 years, she has taught in Jefferson County Public Schools and now teaches at Norton Elementary. In addition to her degrees, she holds a Rank 1 status from the University of Louisville in the areas of gifted education and jazz pedagogy and serves as a consultant for young percussion ensembles across the US. Her mission has been to “provide a comprehensive musical experience for children that enriches lives and builds community.”
The group has expanded to offer after-school music opportunities to 7- to 14-year-old students who live in 26 different Louisville ZIP Codes and attend about four dozen schools in the area.
Their funding comes primarily from donations, so it costs the 60 or so students who participate little or nothing. Donations are also accepted here.
The percussion ensemble earns money as well through performance revenue and album sales. They’ve performed with My Morning Jacket, Louie Bellson, Ruben Alvarez, and Dave Samuels. In 2000, they were awarded a grant from the Carlos Santana Milagro Foundation, the paper noted.