Diane Downs

COUNTRY United States      


Diane Downs is the founder and artistic director of The Louisville Leopard Percussionists.  She is from Louisville, KY and began playing music at home at a very early age.  She participated in band throughout school and entered Morehead State University in Morehead, KY with a music scholarship.  After taking a year off of college to teach music in Montego Bay, Jamaica, she returned to Morehead to pursue her degree in elementary education.  Diane earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education from Morehead State University in Morehead, KY and a Rank 1 status from the University of Louisville in the areas of gifted education and jazz pedagogy.

Diane founded The Fabulous Leopard Percussionists in 1993, directed that group for ten years and then created The Louisville Leopard Percussionists, a non-profit, community based group.  She also assists the “We Got The Beat” percussion ensemble in Fresno, CA and serves as a consultant to numerous elementary percussion ensemble programs around the United States.  Diane has been a teacher in the Jefferson County Public School System since 1988, currently teaching Arts & Humanities at Norton Elementary.

Diane has received the 1996 WHAS TV/PNC Bank ExCel Award, the 2001 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Arts Education, the 2004 Louisville Arts Council Community Arts Award in Music, the 2005 Today’s Woman Magazine Most Admired Woman in Louisville in Education Award, the 2008 National Cable Leaders in Learning Award, and the 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Living the Vision Award.


The Louisville Leopard Percussionists is a non-profit organization comprised of 60+ student musicians ages 7-14 from the Metro Louisville area.  

The Leopards have performed in many major cities throughout the United States and with numerous professional musicians including Dave Samuels, Victor Mendoza, Joe Morello, Emil Richards, Ruben Alvarez, Jerry Steinhotlz, Ndugu Chancler, Zoro, Brad Dutz, and Louie Bellson.  The Leopards have also performed for or worked with Evelyn Glennie, Lalo Davila, Giovanni Hidalgo, Wynton Marsalis, Bernard Woma, Memo Acevedo, and Chester Thompson.

The LLP was featured in "The Leopards Take Manhattan: The Little Band That Roared", an HBO Family Channel special documenting the Leopards' performance at the International Association for Jazz Education Convention in New York City where they were the warm up group for Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, and Eddie Gomez.

The Leopards have been performing since 1993, first as The Fabulous Leopard Percussionists and since 2003 as The Louisville Leopard Percussionists.  They are associated with Sabian Cymbals, Evans Drumheads, Latin Percussion, and Vater Sticks & Mallets.

Don N. Parker

Fayetteville State University / Double Take

Jeff Handel

Dallas Brass

Alison Shaw

Michigan State University

Jauvon Gilliam

University Of Maryland - Director Of Percussion Studies

Matthew C. Cremisio

Take Five