Carolyn Brandy has been drumming for over 40 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 Women Drummers International10 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 recently 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
Afia with Shekere
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 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.
Jeni Swerdlow at Drummm Circle at SF Carnaval
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
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!
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!
Las Bomberas De La Bahia: Denise and Sara
Las Bomberas De La Bahia was founded in April 2007 and is the Bay Area’s first & only all-women’s Bomba ensemble. The group is composed of Bay Area activists, educators, and artists who actively contribute to growing the tradition of Bomba and work to maintain & support Puerto Rico’s oldest African influenced music and dance tradition, which formed in Puerto Rico’s sugar cane plantations by slaves as a form of resistance. Las Bomberas de la Bahia have performed throughout the Bay Area for educational institutions, cultural centers, and cultural festivals.
Denise Solis is an activist, labor organizer, and musician who has lived in the Bay Area since 2002. Denise began studying the Afro Puerto Rican musical tradition of Bomba in 2004.
Sarazeta Ragazzi is a Boricua bred in San Francisco’s Mission District. She is an artist, teacher, and performer with over 15 years experience working in the cultural arts.
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.
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!
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 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.
For more information, visit Debbie’s web site. (www.DebbieFier.com )
Jackeline Rago is a Venezuelan-born, multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, producer and educator who specializes in Venezuelan Folk-Music as well as music from other countries and the Caribbean.
Currently, she is a faculty member at the Jazz School in Berkeley, CA, where she teaches several courses on Afro-Venezuelan percussion, Afro-Venezuelan rhythms applied to Jazz and Venezuelan Cuatro (four-stringed guitar). She is also the artistic and musical director of “The Venezuelan Music Project” and “The Snake Trio”, bands which she performs and travels with in an ongoing basis. In her workshops, she often showcases a wide variety of musical styles and traditional instruments from her native Venezuela, such as the “Quitiplas” (bamboo ensemble), Venezuelan “Maracas” and “Cumaco” (long “avocado-tree” drum).
Jackeline Rago has performed nationally and internationally for over 20 years.
For more information, see Jackie’s web site.
Afia Walking Tree
Afia’s vision for transformative cultural healing across multi-ethnic, intergenerational communities has been an anchor for much of her life’s work. With roots born out of deep African Diasporic ethno musicological spiritual and cultural lineage in Jamaica, Afia has spearheaded many initiatives which bring women and youth into empowerment and voice.
As an educator, Afia utilizes African Diasporic drumming, singing, movement, and the honoring of lineages as vehicles so that we might devote ourselves to our destinies, and cultivate new tools for our re-emergence as whole beings. Dedicated to earth stewardship, Afia is creating sustainable landscapes that allow for us to give to mama in ways that nourish, recycle and utilize resources that harness clean practices including: “trade villages,” water resourcing, worm composting, local home-owner food cropping, earth drum journeys where we listen to the earth and respond with our tree voice, the drum.
Afia’s web site is spiritdrumz.org.
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.
A native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, Lali started her musical training at the age of nine at the “Colegio Bellas Artes” in Maracaibo.
Lali Mejía specializes primarily in the Afro-Venezuelan Folklore as well as other Latin American styles of music. She is a permanent band member of the Venezuelan Music Project (Venezuelan folk music) and the VNote Ensemble (a fusion of Venezuelan music and jazz) and has shared the stage with high caliber musicians such as Marco Granados, Aquiles Baez, Roberto Koch, Maria Volonté, Jorge Glem, Gonzalo Teppa and Francisco “Pacho” Flores.
Since 2004, Lali has helped facilitate many Afro-Venezuelan workshops around the United States in the company of her teacher and mentor, Jackeline Rago.
Among her most memorable performances are the Macau International Music Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, San Francisco Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Moab Music Festival, Yerba Buena Gardens Festival and Venezuelan Sounds at the Smithsonian.