Idris Ackamoor (born Bruce Baker) is an American multi-instrumentalist, composer, actor, tap dancer, producer, administrator, and director. He is the Founder, Executive/Co-Artistic Director of the multi-disciplinary San Francisco performance company Cultural Odyssey. Ackamoor is also the Artistic Director of the world music/jazz ensemble The Pyramids.
He grew up in Chicago, and founded the Pyramids in the early 1970s at Antioch College, Ohio, as part of Cecil Taylor's Black Music Ensemble. They toured Africa in the 1970s, adding musicians and new instruments, before returning to the US and settling in San Francisco. The original group split up in 1977, but Ackamoor has reformed the Pyramids on several occasions.
Ackamoor has been honored with two Lifetime Achievement Awards for his musical and theatrical contributions. The most recent was presented in January 2012 by the BBC radio personality Gilles Peterson at the Worldwide Awards Show in London. In 2003 San Francisco's historic magazine, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, presented Idris with his first. Ackamoor has guided Cultural Odyssey both artistically and administratively since the inception of the organization 35 years ago. He was trained in bookkeeping by the late Ann Weiseltier of L. Ann Weiseltier and Associates as well as by the accounting firm of Swiff, Levy, & Polo. In addition, Ackamoor has extensive grant writing experience and has received training in various technological fields from Bay Area Video Coalition including Final Cut Pro editing and Filmmaking. In 2013 Ackamoor received a James Irvine Foundation Exploring Engagement Fund Award to conduct concerts and music workshops to build the Music is the Healing Force Community Orchestra composed of a diverse array of multicultural and low-income participants culminating in concert presentations in nontraditional arts venues in San Francisco. The U.S. Department of State, Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau selected Idris twice as an “Arts Envoy”. In his role as an arts ambassador he journeyed to Johannesburg, South Africa conducting residency activities inside the Naturena Women's Prison with his partner Rhodessa Jones. In 2007 Idris Ackamoor conducted his first U.S. Department of State Speakers Tour of Russia where he conducted performances and workshops at University of Moscow, the American Center, and University of Rayzen. Idris has been in the spotlight of late thanks to the renewed interest in his 1970's band The Pyramids, which he re-united and since 2010 has conducted seven whirlwind European tours throughout the continent. In the last three years 12 albums have been released of Ackamoor's music, including the first Pyramids album in over 35 years entitled Otherworldly. In addition, a 3-CD box set was released entitled The Pyramids 1972–1976 – They Play to Make Music Fire. In 2004 Ackamoor released his third CD, Homage to Cuba. In 1999 Ackamoor released his second jazz CD entitled Centurian and in 1998 he recorded and released his first CD, Portrait. Ackamoor has recently received an Individual Artists Award from the San Francisco Cultural Equity Program to compose for the next Pyramids album.