Ulysses Owens Jr. (born December 6, 1982, Jacksonville, Florida, United States) is an American multi Grammy Award winning drummer and percussionist, known for his work with bassist Christian McBride, and singer Kurt Elling, as well as Wynton Marsalis, Mulgrew Miller, Nicholas Payton, Benny Golson, and Maceo Parker. He is active on both the New York and international jazz scene as a sideman and band leader. He has also been named a "rising star" in the Downbeat Critic's Poll. He was the drummer on Kurt Elling's Grammy-winning album Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman, and also on Christian McBride's Grammy-winning The Good Feeling.
Owens began playing the drums at the age of 2. He played many types of music in his younger years, centering around his experience in the church. By the time he was in his early teens, he realized that he would become a jazz musician, and received a full scholarship to study at the Juilliard School, in its inaugural jazz program. At Juilliard he began actively playing in the New York scene. Notably, he has performed with both Kurt Elling and Christian McBride, the latter with which he is currently touring. He has recorded with many musicians and singers, and has released two full albums as a leader.
Owens is also the co-founder and artistic director of the charity, Don't Miss A Beat. DMAB's mission is "...to blend music, art, academic achievement, and civic engagement to inspire and enlighten children and teens in the Riverside and Brooklyn communities." After graduating from Juilliard in 2006, Owens traveled the world as a jazz drummer. "I saw so many arts programs for kids, especially in other cultures, and I thought we really need something like this back home." After hearing about Jacksonville's high dropout rate and other problems with struggling youths, Owens and his family designed a program to help suspended youths stay in school. Programming also includes developing workable skills for parents so that, as noted previously, youth have self-sufficient, caring adult role models who are able to provide a safe, healthy environment for their children.