BORN TO DRUM DATES FOR 2015: JULY 17-18-19. COME JOIN US THIS SUMMER!

Events for 2015

Come Drum with Us
BORN TO DRUM 2015

JULY 17-18-19, 2015

DRUM SUNDAY JUNE 7TH

SISTAH BOOM DRUMMING WITH CAROLYN BRANDY AND MAR STEVENS

ALIVE! Reunion Tour 2015

The popular band Alive! will be doing several concerts in the summer of 2015!

Benefit Concert April 19th Mabiba Baegne

Thank You Everyone! It was a Great Success.

Our BORN TO DRUM 2015 Faculty

Mabiba Baegne
Congolese Drumming, Dance, Song and Culture
Mabiba Baegne is an internationally acclaimed teacher, drummer and choreographer of traditional and contemporary African Dance. Mabiba was born in Congo Brazzaville and initiated into dancing by her grandparents at the age of eight. Mabiba is an inspiring drummer. In addition to her Congolese dancing, Mabiba has studied West African dunun drumming with master drummer Famoudou Konate in Guinea and she was the first woman to teach this form in the United States. Mabiba is also an acclaimed singer and has toured and recorded with Salif Keita, master drummer Mamady Keita, and Samba Ngo.
Barbara Borden
KEEPER OF THE BEAT
Barbara Borden—drummer/percussionist – began drumming at age ten. Her musical expression is diverse: composer, recording artist (Beauty in the Beat, All Hearts Beating); performer – soloist, collaborator with other musicians and artists, member of the all-women jazz quintet Alive! (Alive!, Call It Jazz, City Life); teacher – drumkit, West African djembe and ceremonial drums – in groups, community drum circles, workshops, clinics, retreats and private lessons. Borden is the subject of Emmy-award winning filmmaker, David L. Brown’s documentary, KEEPER OF THE BEAT: A Woman’s Journey Into the Heart of Drumming. With drumming and music as her ally, Borden continues to dedicate her life to keeping the beat of love, peace and joy alive and thriving.
OUIDA LEWIS
Special Guest Drummer from Jamaica
Ouida Lewis educator and percussionist/hand drummer, is a lecturer at Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts. She teaches traditional rhythms of her island home Jamaica, the original sound of the Reggae genre, Afro-Cuban, West African Djembe and Dununs. She is also a tap dancer and personal trainer. She teaches both children and adults in an effort to pass on the knowledge of the evolution of Jamaican music. Ouida says, “This is important to me as I realize that people are becoming less aware of the origins of our music and the enormous rich culture it spans from, thus losing a sense of self. Together with a group of educators we hold and teach the history of the traditional Jamaican folk forms. It’s a long-time dream of mine to share Jamaican traditional rhythmsoutside of Jamaica.” In the summer of 2015, she will be visiting Jamaican drummer Afia Walking Tree. She will conduct classes at the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music and pursue other opportunities to share Jamaican style.
Lali Mejia
Venezuelan Drumming and Culture
A native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, Lali Mejia started her musical training at an early age at the Colegio Bellas Artes in Maracaibo. As a 5th grader, she was taught how to read music and play the recorder, advancing into Cuatro studies and the school’s choir during early high school. At the age of 12 she began classical guitar lessons for several years before moving to the United States to pursue her BFA degree in Graphic Design. Lali formally began her percussion studies under Jackeline Rago, Venezuelan instrumentalist and percussionist based in the Bay Area. She also furthered her studies traveling to Venezuela and taking specialized courses in Afro-Venezuelan percussion with master percussionist Alexander Livinalli and members from the Fundacion Biggott. Additionally, Lali studied the art of cajon flamenco in Barcelona, Spain, under Alberto Perez, flamenco singer and percussionist, with an interest in applying its technique to contemporary Latin American music. Lali Mejia specializes primarily in the Afro-Venezuelan folklore as well as other Latin American/Caribbean styles of music. She has shared the stage with prominent musicians such as Marco Granados, Aquiles Baez, Roberto Koch, Jorge Glem, Jackeline Rago, Maria Volonté, Akira Tana and Francisco “Pacho” Flores.aught how to read music and play the recorder, advancing into Cuatro studies and the school’s choir during early high school. At the age of 12 she began classical guitar lessons for several years before moving to the United States to pursue her BFA degree in Graphic Design. Lali formally began her percussion studies under Jackeline Rago, Venezuelan instrumentalist and percussionist based in the Bay Area. She also furthered her stud
SENA KUGBEGA
Drum, Dance and Song from Ghana
Sena Kugbega is from Cape Coast, Ghana, (West Africa) and has been teaching drum and dance since she was 13 years old. As a young girl growing up, she always knew what she wanted to do. Sena Kugbega has also travelled with her mother, Award winning only female master drummer in Ghana Adwoa Kudoto, throughout the US teaching and performing in Washington, New York, Atlanta and California,etc. Sena was always willing to learn, learning how to have fun drumming and dancing. Dancing has always been part of her life and she does it with enthusiasm and joy. Sena is an excellent teacher and her classes are always fun with lots of room for plenty of laughter!
SUSU PAMPANIN
Middle Eastern Drumming
Susu has explored and studied all types of percussion instruments and styles of music, and her incredible talent is especially evident in her work in Middle Eastern drumming. Susu is well known for her virtuosity in Arabic drumming and is one of the few female Middle Eastern. drummers highly respected by the Arabic professional music community. She has worked and recorded with fusion ensembles, including Wild Mango, Keith Terry and Crosspulse, Stellamara, Jazayer, BlueNile, Vince Delgado Quintet, Susu and the Cairo Cats, and most recently, Holly Near. She also has a solo drum CD, Hands of Time.
AFIA WALKING TREE
West African Djembe and Dunun
Afia Walking Tree’s philosophy is that we are all on a journey to re-emerge as whole beings and be in sync with our universes. She uses African Diasporic drumming, singing, dancing, and the honoring of one’s lineages as vehicle to help her clients and participants cultivate new tools and pathways to realize their destinies. Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Afia Walking Tree is a masterful percussionist, visionary facilitator, and outstanding performer, singer-songwriter and recording artist who builds’ bridges across multi-ethnic intergenerational communities. Afia has been a collaborative artist with many luminaries of our time. In 2007 and 2008, Afia toured with the internationally acclaimed Les Amazones Women Master Drummers of Guinea as one of their lead soloists. January 2009 Afia chaperoned thirty three people on her second Drum and Dance Cultural Immersion Tour to Guinea. There she received initiations for playing Djembe and Dunun for numerous ceremonies, dances, and social celebrations. Afia offers intensive study and consultation for individuals, semi-privates (2-4), and small to large groups at all levels. She also brings her work to schools, non-profits, colleges, universities, and corporations internationally.
MICHAELLE GOERLITZ
Brazilian Drumming
Michaelle Goerlitz has been playing drums and percussion since she was eight years old. After attending college in the Midwest, she moved to San Francisco in 1980 to continue her studies, which have led to exploration of Brazilian, Afro Cuban, Venezuelan, Peruvian and Middle Eastern rhythms (plus American idioms jazz, R & B & funk). She was a founding member of two renowned & long-term projects, the Blazing Redheads and Wild Mango. Both groups blended many different styles which showcased Michaelle’s versatile percussive skills. Among the list of people Michaelle has played with: Wayne Wallace, Mark Levine, Proyecto Lando, the Pickpocket Ensemble, rhiannon, Barbara Higbie, Jami Sieber and Samba Rio.
ELIZABETH SAYRE
Afro Cuban Bata Drums
Elizabeth Sayre is a percussionist and musicologist who has performed, published articles about, and organized events around Afro-Latin, Brazilian, and African music since 1990. She is a freelance musician, teacher, researcher, writer, and translator/interpreter. She relocated to the Bay Area in July 2012 and has been playing and teaching batá and other percussion, accompanying classes and performances with Arenas Dance Company, and working as Arts Education Coordinator at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts in Tracy, CA. In Afro-Cuban music, she has studied with John Amira, Orlando Fiol, Amelia Pedroso, Lázaro Pedroso Michael Spiro, Michel Aldama, and Orlando Álvarez González in Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, and in Havana and Matanzas, Cuba. Since 1999 she has accompanied Afro-Cuban dance classes in New York City (batá, congas), Philadelphia, and the Bay Area for former dancers from the Conjunto Folkórico Nacional de Cuba, Yoruba Andabo, Cutumba, and Raíces Profundas. Elizabeth was percussion captain for Obini Ashe and founder/musical director of Okan Iloro, two all women’s Afro-Cuban folkloric groups based in New York. In the mid-1990s she was invited to join Samba Nosso, the project which eventually became Philadelphia’s dance band sensation, Alô Brasil. In Spring 2013, she co-organized Ojalá’s trip to the Festival del Caribe in Santiago de Cuba. Ojalá is an 8-woman ensemble that fuses Afro-Cuban and Brazilian percussion with African American roots music.
MAR STEVENS
West African Djembe
Mar Stevens, drum warrior, began studying West African drumming ten years ago with Master Drummer Afia Walking Tree of Spirit Drumz and became her apprentice. In 2008 Mar traveled to Guinea, Africa to attend the Fore-Fote Drum and Dance Camp. Under the tutelage of Master Drummers and dancers she continued her drum education and learned many traditional rhythms and dances. Mar loves sharing the rhythms and dances of West Africa. She co-leads, “Rhythm Sistas,” a woman of color drum circle held monthly in Oakland, CA. She also is a member of “Sistahs of the Drum,” a Bay Area group of African-American women who drum to heal, transform, and witness through the power of the drum.
DEBBIE FIER
Body Percussion and Middle Eastern Percussion
Debbie Fier has over 35 years of experience as a performing vocalist, drummer, pianist, composer, percussionist, and teacher. She has studied numerous drum styles for over 25 years — mostly focusing on Middle Eastern and N. African rhythms and styles, and also including Afro-Cuban and West African rhythms. She drums and performs regularly with the Sabah Belly Dance Ensemble, and also performs with a variety of music groups, dancers and poets, in educational, musical, and spiritual settings. Debbie continuously uses music and drumming to build bridges between different cultural and spiritual communities. Her passion for rhythm and music is evident in the energy she brings to her craft – creating an environment for safety, playfulness, and exploration for her students and the other musicians Debbie Fier has over 35 years of experience as a performing vocalist, drummer, pianist, composer, percussionist, and teacher. She has studied numerous drum styles for over 25 years — mostly focusing on Middle Eastern and N. African rhythms and styles, and also including Afro-Cuban and West African rhythms. She drums and performs regularly with the Sabah Belly Dance Ensemble, and also performs with a variety of music groups, dancers and poets, in educational, musical, and spiritual settings. Debbie continuously uses music and drumming to build bridges between different cultural and spiritual communities. Her passion for rhythm and music is evident in the energy she brings to her craft – creating an environment for safety, playfulness, and exploration for her students and the other musicians and dancers that she collaborates with. She teaches body percussion and drumming throughout the bay area, coaching people on how to tap into the power of drumming and rhythm as both a meditation and a healing tool, and performs regularly on dumbek, riqq and djembe. Over the past 8 years, she has found a home at Kehilla Community Synagogue as a spiritual leader through drumming, where she has been named the ‘Heartbeat of the Service’. She teaches classes called ‘Drumming as Prayer’. Her original compositions are available on four recordings — In Your Hands, Firelight, Coming Home, and her most recent, Arise, Kehilla – Inspirational Music of Kehilla Community Synagogue.
NEENA MCNAIR
Native American Drum
I first experienced drumming when a child at local pow-wows, I wanted to drum, but was told nope, not for girls. It wasn’t even allowed to sing much with the drums then, no girls dancing like the boys, but I did hang around the fringes learning traditional women’s dance, while listening real hard. During that time, looking for a way to fill a hole in my broken heart, I had the good fortune to witness a Native American women’s drum circle…I was in LOVE. I followed them around like some little puppy dog groupie and eventually they allowed me to join them–HEAVEN! Time and place had changed the “rules”…I was living in CALIFORNIA now! I have been singing and drumming in native women’s plains-style drum circles for more than 20 years. I want to continue with my education and look forward to any drum circles that support the learning. Believe me…these are the times…and here we ARE!
SUE KAYE (SUKI)
Congolese, Congas
Sue Kaye (Suki) has been playing conga drums, Ngomas, and other percussion for 35 years. Originally from New York, Suki has studied with many master drummers from the Congo, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Trinidad, and more. She has played with a variety of groups including Montuno Groove, Omeyocan, Zakiya Hooker, Samba Ngo, Bole Bantu, Azucar con Ache, and Rita Lackey and friends. The styles she plays are a mix of African, Caribbean, Latin, Jazz, both folkloric and popular styles. Suki has also been a dance accompanist and educator, and she is happiest when playing drums!
JENI SWERDLOW
DRUMMM Circle Facilitator
San Francisco Bay Area percussionist and registered art therapist Jeni Swerdlow, MA-ATR is a dynamic and engaging facilitator, trainer, presenter, and performer. Founding DRUMMM Rhythmic Events in 2000, her interactive, “hands-on” group drumming programs have engaged many thousands of participants at a wide variety of events in the U.S. and abroad. Swerdlow is a REMO endorsed drum circle facilitator, trained HealthRHYTHMS facilitator, and lifelong student of West African drumming and world percussion. Swerdlow is best known for her innovative strategies and playful attitude that foster teambuilding, support wellness, enhance celebrations, and strengthen community for event participants of all ages and backgrounds. More info is at www.DRUMMM.com
LARISSA MONTFORT
West African Dunun and Djembe
Larissa Montfort has been exploring her passion for West African, Congolese, and Afro-Cuban rhythms since 1995 with many teachers, including Mabiba Baegne, Ubaka Hill, Yona Fleming, Malonga Casquelord, Stori Davis, and Afia Walking Tree. Larissa traveled to Guinea, West Africa to study dance with Youssouf Koumbassa and Yamousa Souma and djembe and dunun with Amadou Camara and Lamine Dibo Camara. Larissa continues to apprentice with her primary mentor, Afia Walking Tree. She performs with Afia Walking Tree’s Spirit Drumz ensemble as well as with Mamayah, a Sonoma County-based women’s West African drum ensemble. Larissa assisted Ubaka Hill at Michfest where she helped teach and direct the Drumsong Orchestra. Larissa accompanies dance classes, women’s rituals, and healing circles. In her own words Larissa shares: “Drumming allows me to express my joy, strength, and freedom, while serving the spirit of the music, the dance, and the empowerment of women.”
ODILIA GALVÁN RODRÍGUEZ
Poet, Activist
Odilia Galván Rodríguez is an internationally recognized poet, writer, journalist, editor, teacher, and activist who has traveled extensively. She has three books of poetry and her work has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Her most recent book, Migratory Birds: New and Noted Poems, is about her many journeys the physical as well as the spiritual.
REGINA WELLS
Embodied Movement
Regina Wells is a full-hearted singer whose voice and presence touches people deeply. She has been singing all of her life, from her youth leading Catholic folk masses to venues large and small around the USA. She has shared the stage with Linda Tillery, Carolyn Brandy, Edwina Lee Tyler, Santana, rhiannon, Bobby McFerrin, Melanie DeMore, Toshi Reagon and her own band Rashida Oji and Middle Passage – and Ojala’. Today Regina walks a path of service and ministry to elders and people suffering from chronic pain, depression, anxiety, addiction and Alzheimer’s as both a Rosen Method Bodywork Practitioner and Movement Instructor. She is strengthened by her initiation into and practice within the Regla de Ocha tradition.
AVOTCJA
La Palabra Musical
Avotcja (pronounced Avacha) is a card carrying New York born Music fanatic/sound junkie & popular Bay Area Radio DeeJay & member of the award winning group Avotcja & Modúpue. She’s a lifelong Musician/Writer/Educator/Storyteller & is on a shamelessly Spirit driven melodic mission to heal herself. Avotcja talks to the Trees & listens to the Wind against the concrete & when they answer it usually winds up in a Poem or Short Story. For this Festival my Workshop will be on La Palabra Musical, The Music Of The Word, the Rhythm that speaks in us & through us & our responsibility in using this most sacred of gifts wisely. I want to unlock a waterfall of poetic metaphors as strong as any Rhythm you’ve ever heard played on the Drum & see where it take us!!! I’m ready, are you?
CAROLYN BRANDY
Cuban Conga and Fundamentals of Rhythm
Carolyn Brandy has been drumming for over 45 years. She has been instrumental in bringing women to the spirit and healing of the Drum. Carolyn is the Artistic Director of Women Drummers International and co-creator of the Born to Drum Women’s Drum Camp. She was also the founder of the Bay Area’s favorite marching band, Sistah Boom in 1981. In 1976, Carolyn co-founded the popular band, Alive! that toured the nation for almost 10 years and has 4 recordings to its credit. She has worked in the SF Bay area for many years as a composer, performer, teacher and cultural worker Carolyn is an expert in the folkloric drumming styles found throughout the island of Cuba. She has been a practitioner of the Yoruba-based Cuban religion, Regla de Ocha, also known as Santeria, since 1977. She was initiated as a priest of the religion in Havana, Cuba by Amelia Pedroso in 2000. Carolyn has led five successful cultural tours to the Island of Cuba to study Folkloric music. She has organized workshops in Havana, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Santiago De Cuba, and Guantanamo, where the groups studied with masters of Afro-Cuban drumming and dance. Carolyn has also produced an instructional DVD series called: Step by Step Conga Instruction. More information about her DVD’s, and projects, can be found at: http://www.carolynbrandy.com

About US

Women Drummers International is a a 501(c)3 nonprofit tax-deductible organization. Donations to Women Drummers International
Mission

The Mission of Women Drummers International is to empower women and girls in all aspects of their lives through the message of the drum, which represents not only a musical experience, but a cultural and healing experience as well. We believe that we are participating in a global movement of women drummers at this time on the planet. Women Drummers International is committed to creating a positive and empowering environment for women to teach, learn, and perform this incredible art form.

  • President

    Carolyn Brandy

  • Vice-President

    Odilia Galván Rodríguez

  • Treasurer

    Rana Halpern

  • Secretary

    Esther Malke Singer

Carolyn Brandy • Odilia Galván Rodríguez • Esther Malke Singer • Jeannie Little • Bonnie Bell • Rasán Gray

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