deVon gray

Fortuna Calvo-Roth Fellow


“Born and raised in a predominantly black neighborhood in the heart of St. Paul, MN, I had the good fortune of a pretty well balanced cultural upbringing, which included a reverence for classical music equal to the respect for spirituals, jazz, and blues. My mentors were elders in my community, folks who were founders of our local chapter of the National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM). It seemed so natural to me that I should be introduced to Ornette Coleman at the same time as singing spirituals and performing Mozart chamber music… There are intersections that titillate my senses, such as Ravel and Isaac Hayes. Isaac Hayes was absolutely a composer, and a brilliant one. But, if he’d offered us a string quartet or a symphony with the orchestration savvy of a Ravel?!  Pfft! Forget about it.”

—deVon Gray


deVon R. Gray may be the world’s last cultural enigma. The multi-instrumentalist, classically trained composer is as comfortable writing orchestral and operatic works as he is churning out jazz riffs and hip hop bravado. His breadth of knowledge saturates various instruments, multiple genres, and limitless styles. And he does it all so effortlessly even he is unaware that he’s working. While many creators spend hours perfecting their craft & skills, dVRG, as he is known, envisions the pen and watches the music write itself.

A recipient of a 2017 composition fellowship from the McKnight Foundation, dVRG will continue to build a life in music creation and performance. Redefining versatility, dVRG draws inspiration from an enviable record collection, from Claudio Monteverdi to Shuggie Otis, and communicates through nuanced sounds; a musical polyglot disguised as a lone star…ready to super nova.