Ava Kay Jones

Ava Kay Jones is an ordained Voodoo and Yoruba Priestess and a leading spokesperson for Voodoo and related African religious culture. She is also the lead performer and principal dancer in the Voodoo Macumba Dance Ensemble.

Born in New Orleans on Halloween, it seemed almost fated that Ava Kay should become both a Voodoo Priestess and a devout Catholic. In addition, she is also an actress, lecturer, author, teacher of foreign languages and a law school graduate.

Ava Kay has performed both locally and internationally. She has been a favorite at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for over 30 years, and has lectured on the “Sacred Arts of Haitian Voodoo” at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Her appearance on Unsolved Mysteries was viewed by 33 million people.

Ava Kay Jones works exclusively through Judith Faye Entertainment and is available for entertaining at your event alone, with the Voodoo Macumba Dance Ensemble or with her snake, Bubbles. Whether she is doing an elaborate Stage Performance, Interactive Group Entertainment, Celebrity Hostessing or strolling through the crowd telling stories and handing out Gris-Gris bags and Voodoo dolls you can make sure your guests will never forget this remarkable and magnetic lady.

“Voodoo is the religion and the word Voodoo means spirit, deity and God. The Creator of the Universe.” —Ava Kay Jones

Ava Kay Jones, New Orleans Voodoo Priestess, met with a Disney Pixar team at Commander’s Palace Restaurant, and she shared with them her colorful family history. As a result of that meeting, Ava Kay was asked to be a consultant for the film, and became the inspiration for the Voodoo heroine, Mama Odie in The Princess and The Frog.

In her own words, Ava Kay speaks about the experience:

“Well, the first thing I told the Disney team is that I was born in New Orleans on Halloween, but my people are from the bayous of Thibideaux in LaFourche parish of Louisiana. I said, you need to go there to experience the culture of the bayous.

I said that my grandparents are from those bayous, and that my family history includes a French-speaking grandfather who was a famous musician. I learned to dance and sing at an early age.

I told them I was blind without my glasses, and low and behold, Mama Odie is blind with glasses! I also told them that any real Louisiana swamp would have an alligator and a big snake.”

“Mama Odie and I are priestesses of the light.”—Ava Kay Jones

The Mama Odie character is the property of The Walt Disney Company, 2009.

The Louisiana Superdome was built in 1967 atop the old Girod Street Cemetery in New Orleans. Although most of the human remains were moved to other cemeteries, many Saints football fans were convinced that the displaced spirits of Girod Street Cemetery were holding the football franchise back and preventing them from becoming champions. In 2000, the New Orleans Saints called the “big guns” to combat the ghostly curse on their football stadium.

Voodoo Priestess, Ava Kay Jones and Voodoo Macumba Dance Ensemble performed a Voodoo ritual and prayers before 67,000 fans in the Superdome, and the Saints finally won their first ever playoff game. The 33 year-old Superdome Curse was lifted and Ava Kay became known as the Official Voodoo Priestess of the NFL.

The photo of Ava Kay Jones performing this ceremony has been published in newspapers and magazines around the world, including Time Magazine.

A Brief History of Voodoo in New Orleans

Voodoo is a religion. It first emerged in New Orleans with the arrival of African slaves into the port of the city. They brought with them the practices and beliefs of their West African and Caribbean culture. The slaves believed in a supreme being under whom were spirits, forces and dieties whose interception they sought in the ordinary needs of their lives.

Catholicism was the predominant religion of New Orleans. Forced into Catholicism by slave owners, the slaves learned to incorporate and blend their own spiritualism and culture with Catholicism. From that blending came “New Orleans Voodoo”. From the beginning of the slave ships and into modern day times, Voodoo practitioners have gathered at Congo Square to celebrate their unique spirituality through dancing and drumming.

It was around this time that Voodoo truly made its mark in New Orleans through the unifying force of the most famous Voodoo Queen ever known, Marie Laveau. She was a free woman of color, and as such was able to own property and work in the trade of her choice. As a hairdresser, she got to know the New Orleans elite. She was a Voodoo practitioner and a devout Catholic who attended Mass daily. She had many followers from all walks of life that sought her counsel and asked her to create gris-gris (mojo), potions, and blessings for them. Upon her death in 1881, her daughter and namesake took over her practice, creating the illusion that Marie Laveau lived over a hundred years.

“In those days, a Voodoo Priestess took spells off the people and she knew how to visit the spirit world. As a Voodoo Priestess in today’s world, I represent and teach the culture of Voodoo, use a little gris-gris (mojo) and prayer to bless people, and attend my favorite Catholic Church in the French Quarter often.” — Ava Kay Jones

Today, New Orleans embraces and celebrates its culturally rich and varied religious heritages. Tourists and locals alike enjoy touring the local Voodoo shops, visiting Marie Laveau’s grave in the St. Louis Cemetery and bringing home gris-gris bags and potions to bless their homes and lives.