Afia Walking Tree
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.Read More
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.
Amikaeyla Gaston[/caption]Amikaeyla is an amazing vocalist and percussionist who comes from the Washington DC area. She has studied, recorded with, and shared the stage with many award winning artists, including Take 6, Sweet Honey In The Rock, Baba Olatunji, Mickey Hart, Gil Scott Heron, Wyclef, Ubaka Hill, Ferron, Vicki Randle, Linda Tillery, Chris Williamson, and Pete Seeger.
Proclaimed as one of the “purest contemporary voices…” by National Public Radio, powerhouse Amikaeyla embraces the best of many types of music: from Bel Canto, Funk & Bossa Nova to Blues, Sacred Chanting and Soul, Afro-Cuban and Jazz.Read More
Before moving to the SF Bay area in 2007 Amikaeyla recorded her debut album Mosaic (2004), which received national acclaim, and earned her eight Washington Area Music Association Awards, or Wammys, including Best Jazz Vocalist, Best Jazz Recording, Best Urban Contemporary Vocalist, Best World Music Vocalist, Best World Music Recording, and Best Debut Album. Amikaeyla was named DC’s best female composer in 2006 & 2008, and was also honored with first prize for Best World Music Composition from the 2010-2011 Maryland State Arts Council.
She has also performed in many off-broadway music theater productions and has also produced, written, and directed for several theater companies. Her continued work in Radio, TV, & Film has lead to appearances on PBS HBO & at The Sundance Film Festival.
Her albums include:
Lush; Live from the Kennedy Center; Uncertain Odyssey; and Songs & Stories of the journey of a Refugee. Her latest album, Being In Love, was released in 2012 to critical acclaim.
Amikaeyla is a dynamic performer with heart, soul, international appeal, and is sure to inspire.
Arisika Razak, RN, NM, MPH is an Associate Professor of Women’s Spirituality at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), where she has also served as Director of Diversity, and Women’s Spirituality Program Chair. She presents at numerous conferences on the subjects of multicultural feminisms, women’s health and healing, and embodied spirituality and movement. Arisika has led empowerment workshops for women for over 30 years and spiritually based workshops for women, men and beings of diverse genders for over a decade. For over 35 years she has been a spiritual dancer who integrates teachings based on diverse spiritual traditions, contemporary liberation struggles, and women’s health, healing and transformation into the language of movement and dance.Read More
She has achieved local, national and international recognition as an educator, artist, and practitioner. Her film credits include: Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth which showcases the life and work of Alice Walker; Fire Eyes by Soraya Mire, the first full length feature film by an African woman to explore the issue of female genital cutting; and Who Lives Who Dies a PBS special on health care services to marginalized and underserved populations.
Annette A. Aguilar – multi-percussionist, recording artist,educator, producer and bandleader – was born in San Francisco into a family from Nicaragua. She began playing music at the age of eleven.
At sixteen, she was recognized for her percussion playing and began sitting in and performing with internationally renowned Latin artists such as members of the Santana Band, Cal Tjader, and Pete an Sheila Escovedo. She earned a Bachelor in Music from San Francisco State University, a Masters from Manhattan School of Music, and Masters in Music Education at CUNY. She has worked on Grammy Award-winning Broadway shows and currently serves as principal timpanist for the Bronx Symphony.
In 1992, she formed her Latin and Brazilian jazz group, Annette A. Aguilar & StringBeans. StringBeans soon became a popular fixture of the New York City’s East Village and Lower East Side music scene. A three-time selection as Latin Jazz Ambassadors by the U.S. State Department, the Kennedy Center and Jazz at Lincoln Center, the group has toured South Africa, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar, sharing their knowledge of music from the Americans and the Caribbean.
Their debut CD on their own label, Special Friends, and second CD, No Cheap Dates, received numerous reviews nationally and abroad. They will release their third CD, The Day Waits for Nobody in Spring 2009 in time for their return concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
For more information, visit Annette’s website.
Avotcja (pronounced Avacha)
Avotcja 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? DAUGHTERS OF THE DRUM, A POEM BY AVOTCJA, 2014
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.Read More
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 her website.
Corrina is a Chochenyo and Kerkin Ohlone woman born and and raised in Oakland, CA, Corrina is the mother of three children Corrina is the Co-Founder and a Lead Organizer for Indian People Organizing for Change(IPOC), a small Native run organization that works on Indigenous people issues as well as sponsoring an annual Shellmound Peace Walk to bring about education and awareness of the desecration of the sacred sites in the greater Bay Area, 2005-2009. IPOC has led many actions including the 2011 Occupation of Segorea Te in Vallejo, California which was successful in preserving the sacred site. Corrina also sits on the California Indigenous Environmental Association Board , the Board of Directors for the Oakland Street Academy Foundation and is the treasurer for the Edes HOA.
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 30 years, including Afro-Cuban and West African rhythms, focusing deeply on the rhythms and instruments of the Middle East and N. Africa. She drums and performs regularly with the Sabah Belly Dance Ensemble and the band Safra, as well as 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 teachesRead More
Over the past 10 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. All are available on itunes! For more info visit her website.
Edwina Lee Tyler
Edwina Lee Tyler is master of the West African Djembe drum. She is acclaimed as one of the earliest pioneers of the women’s drumming movement. During the 1970’s Edwina heard the call of the drum and went to Africa to study. Edwina was the founder and director of “A Piece of the World” an African American women’s drum and dance ensemble. She has also toured extensively as a soloist.
Edwina is known internationally. She has performed on Broadway, television, radio, and video. Her drumming spirit is an inspiration to all. Her credits include Urban Bush Women, Lady Gourd Sangoma, Merian Soto, Ancestral Messengers, Prowess Dance Arts Collective, and more.
The Edwina Lee Tyler TV show is on channel 20 local Long Island, NY. It comes on at 4:00pm Thursday. The name of the show is God Can Do All Things.
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.Read More
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.
Gladys “Bobi” Céspedes
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 on Bay Area Drum Circles and Drumming is located here.
Jennifer Berezan is a unique blend of singer/ songwriter, producer, and activist. Over the course of ten albums, she has developed and explored recurring themes with a rare wisdom. Her lifelong involvement in environmental, women’s, and other justice movements as well as an interest in Buddhism and earth-based spirituality are at the heart of her writing.
Her intense and personal approach to music as a transforming experience has brought her strong rapport with audiences from small clubs to large festivals throughout North America and Europe. Her ground breaking work as a recording artist and teacher has established her as a leading voice in the field of music and healing and she is an acclaimed producer of large scale multi-cultural ecstatic musical events.Read More
Her 1988 debut album In the Eye of The Storm laid the groundwork for what has since become music in a style that then had no label but today is part of “Americana”. The more rock oriented Borderlines (on Flying Fish/Rounder Records), was nominated for a 1993 NAIRD award (the Grammy of the independent record industry). Refuge (1997) explored lush acoustic arrangements intertwinedwith vulnerable personal themes.
She Carries Me (1995) marked the beginning of Jennifer Berezan’s journey into the realm of meditative and trance music. This album featured special guest Olympia Dukakis in a spoken word part.
In 2000 she traveled to Malta to create Returning, a cross cultural chant-based piece. This breakthrough work pioneered her unique approach to creating long playing, layered compositions. It was recorded in a 6000 year old oracular underground sound chamber in the world’s oldest temples.
Returning was followed by Praises for the World (2002), which features special guest Alice Walker and singers from a variety of cultural and spiritual traditions.
Praises for the World developed into a large scale theatrical piece as Jennifer embraced her love of collaboration. It involves nearly 60 musicians, dancers, poets, actors and activists. Performances have included guest artists Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem, Olympia Dukakis,Eve Ensler, Wilma Mankiller, and Tuck and Patti. The performances also function as fundraisers and educational events for progressive organizations.
In 2005 she released End of Desire, a work that reveals her broad musical influences and interests. It weaves elements of folk, rock, chant and pop with subtle Buddhist themes, songs of love, longing and the struggle for global justice. Acoustically based with Jennifer’s guitar and smoky vocals at the forefront, it is a warm and haunting production. It includes vocal appearances by Bruce Cockburn and Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls). 2011 and 2012 have found her especially prolific, with 2 new unique releases.
In these Arms, A Song for all Beings is a longplaying musical meditation based in the Buddhist practices of lovingkindness and compassion. Berezan traveled to Korea with co-producer don benedictson to record 250 Buddhist nuns from Un-munsa monastery. Their chanting is interwoven with voices from around the world, including Dechen Shak-Dagsay(Tibet), Rita Sahai(India), Katia Cardenal(Nicaragua), Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield and others.
Her most recent release “Home” continues her signature mix of emotionally rich songs, original guitar work, warm production, a collection of esteemed musical friends and themes that touch on “home as everywhere”…California, Beijing, the Yukon Canada, and the internal realms of the heart.
Jennifer Berezan is not your typical singer/songwriter and her work continues to expand artistic boundaries, blurring the distinctions between musical styles, politics, and spirituality.
Though her songs often confront universal issues, her perspective is informed by a refreshing and honest intimacy. Raised in the prairies of Alberta, Canada, the transformative power of nature is also at the heart of her work. The Canadian born singer calls Berkeley, California home when not on tour.
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.Read More
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.”
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.
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.
In my teens I became a dancer–folk dancing, modern dance, jazz, a little ballet–then I was introduced to Congolese dance and drum, got hooked! Soon after I asked for a guitar one x-mas and was given a conga. Well…had to learn how to use it, so that ensued for several more years. I learned to play some of the rhythms my body had been responding to…and was THAT ever exciting!Read More
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 almost 20 years. A few years ago I was introduced to dununs, and have added some drum classes and drumming for dance class where I live. Shortly after I was introduced to dunun I had the great fortune to come to Born to Drum camp, on work study, and got to experience classes with Mabiba Baegne.
I knew Mabiba as a dancer…was I in for a surprise! I can’t say that I’m any good at duns, but I can say that I LOVE the way they sound, and make me feel. 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!
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.
Sue Kaye (Suki)
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!
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!
Sheree Seretse, Director of the Anzanga, Shumba Youth and Zambuko Marimba Ensembles has been teaching, studying and performing for over 40 years. Affectionately known as “mama marimba”, Sheree’s passion and drive for Zimbabwean Marimba music shines through the five recordings she has produced and numerous other recordings on which she made appearances.
Sheree received her initial training through renowned musician and composer Dumisani “Dumi” Maraire. She has facilitated many workshops around the country and has toured extensively around the globe.
Sheree believes that marimba music is accessible to everyone.
Susana Arenas Pedroso
Susana Arenas Pedroso is an internationally recognized Cuban Folkloric and popular dancer. Born and raised in Havana, Cuba, Ms Pedroso began her career in dance at age twelve, studying at La Casa de Cultura de Matanzas and at Cojunto Folklorico Nacional in Havana. She danced professionally for seventeen years in Cuba with popular, folkloric and theatrical performing groups, including Tierra Virgen, Alafia Ire, Oche Olorun, Oriki, Clave y Guaguancó, Oba Wemilere, Rumberos de Cuba, and Raíces Profundas. Since her arrival in the United States in 1998, Ms Pedroso has performed and choreographed numerous pieces that have been exhibited throughout the United States, Mexico, Cuba and Hong Kong with companies such as Omo Ache, Omo Oddara, Ban Rarra, Ire Ile, Alayo Dance Company, Las Que Son Son and Obini Ashe.
Susu Pampaninhas 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.