Dede Alder began her music studies in the fifth grade, as a member of her school’s band. Her interest in percussion led her to study ethnic and hand drumming. During high school at TC Central, she started her own percussion business, “Rhythmic Adventures.” Dede received her Associate’s Degree in Music at Northwestern Michigan College and later studied African Drum and Dance with Titos Sompa and Cheikh Thiam. She studied world percussion through Layne Redmond, Judy Piazza, the North American Frame Drum Association, and in Ireland and Hawaii. She has studied classical percussion with David Warne (Sun Radius Music), John Alfieri (Interlochen), and Gwendolyn Burgett Thrasher (MSU). She attended Interlochen’s adult band camp in 2006 and 2007 and has performed at Interlochen’s Korson Auditorium on several other occasions. Dede has just added Drumset to her list of musical itinerary with a new teal blue Tama GrandStar.
Dede has attended workshops on Health Rhythms Empowerment Drumming, Facilitators Playshop Skill Training, and Drum Circle Music. She has played with many bands of different genres and is an experienced studio musician. Children and adults alike are continually delighted and mesmerized by her teaching and performance possibilities. Dede also has been developing her dance skills over the past years and is a talented dance performer in the styles of bellydance, tribal bellydance, partner, modern, and improv.
Drummer, performer, composer and teacher Barbara Borden is a veteran of the San Francisco and women’s music scene. Her story is told in words and music in the documentary film Keeper of the Beat: A Woman’s Journey Into the Heart of Drumming, which showcases the unfolding of her identity from little girl in love with drumming to first-class percussionist who travels the world using music to strengthen and enliven the heartbeat of humanity. She has performed She Dares to Drum, her solo autobiographical “percussion play” co-created and directed by Naomi Newman (co-founder, Traveling Jewish Theatre) for 10 years to enthusiastic audiences and critical acclaim.
Borden has drummed and recorded with a variety of musicians, including Rhiannon, Suru Eke, Jennifer Berezan, Arthur Hull, Linda Tillery, and Babatunde Olatunje among others, and thrives on collaborations with artists and healers in a variety of disciplines—dancers, writers, poets, improv artists, storytellers and actors. Borden enjoys teaching and mentoring, facilitating drum circles and councils, workshops/clinics, and retreats around the country and teaches private and group lessons in drumkit, West African djembe, and ceremonial drumming in Marin County, CA. She continues to be deeply moved by the positive and joyous response to drumming and music and its ability to bring people together to share greater understanding, joy, and compassion…” I love to drum. I experience drumming as the heartbeat of life. I am constantly awed by the purity and honesty of drumming and music…how it connects us all heart to heart and brings such joy. I look forward to being in the heartbeat with each and every one of you!
Jean got her first drum in 1989. Living in rural Renfrew County, with no one to teach her how to play, Jean says: I felt I didn’t have much rhythm and was afraid of the drum. But I loved its sound and spirit, so I asked the drum to teach me. Jean has facilitated many recreational drum circles and workshops throughout the Upper Ottawa Valley and passionately believes that everyone has rhythm. She drums with children in area schools and camps as well as with seniors in long term care residences. Since 2005 she has been teaching courses on rhythm and drumming at Algonquin College in Pembroke, Ontario. Jean has drummed for “The Dances of Universal Peace” and with her community “Kirtan Group” (Sanskrit Chant) for many years.
B. Wahru Cleveland
Wahru performs as a percussionist with Columbus jazz artist Debé, Jazz Mary Daniels, Debra James Tucker, and Bobby Hamlin, and is the primary drummer for Pat Funderburg’s AfroRhythms. Wahru also performed at the National Women Music Festival with featured performers, and drum elders, Edwina Lee Tyler, Nurudafina Pili Abena, and Ubaka Hill, and is the leader of the National Women’s Music Festival Drum Chorus. She has led drum circles and conducted workshops in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Ohio. In 2017 Wahru was honored to conduct workshops at the Ontario Womyn’s Drum Camp. Her workshops span from beginning to intermediate and advanced, and focus on hand positions, hand control for right and left handed drummers, finding and playing with balance, timing, how to mix and layer patterns and play together certain types of drum and bell patterns. Also covered is how to properly play basic and complicated patterns for the heartbeat bass drums (dun drum).
Wahru is the founder of Sistah Ngoma, a dynamic women’s multicultural drum, song, and dance group, performing traditional Afro-Cuban and world beat rhythms, poetic verse, dance, and plain ‘ol pulsating female passion and energy, and the Columbus Spirit Drummers, a collection of Columbus drummers from several groups affiliated with Wahru.
Susan Crowe, drummer, singer, ceremonialist, water pourer, pipe carrier, healer and intuitive, has been moved by spirit to take her gifts “to the people”. Twenty-three years of study with native elders from both North and South America have honed her natural talents.
Personal work and experience have sensitized her to the needs of other women. She now celebrates life by drumming and singing songs of spirit, love and compassion. Through these she honors the life of each woman she meets by celebrating their connection to the goddess within.
Janice’s healing journey on the ‘red road’ began in November 1996 at the Kumik, a traditional Anishnaabe Lodge located at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s Head Office in Gatineau, following a mental breakthrough. She made her first Indigenous hand drum in 2007, at a workshop offered by Health Canada shortly after she began working as a Strategic Communications Officer with the federal department’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch and began learning the traditional songs and Teachings soon after. She has been a member of the Iskotew Lodge’s Peace Flame drum circle since August 2007.
Now, as a federal free agent, she is committed to supporting wellness and building bridges of understanding between Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. She appreciates that as a drum carrier she has a unique opportunity to achieve this goal. She is grateful to all the Elders, mentors and teachers who have guided her on her healing journey and is honoured to offer creative workshops combining her passion for drumming and colour. With heartfelt thanks to Julie Vachon for introducing her to Drum Camp, and for her friendship and continued support.
Lori Fithian has been facilitating drum circles and leading workshops since 1998. She grew up in a musical family, starting out early banging on Tupperware as a toddler, tapping on 7-up bottles and an old set of bongos in family porch jams as a kid, playing the french horn in school – all before discovering the world of hand drumming and drum circling, around 1989.
A “folk” student of many different drum traditions: West African, Brazilian, Japanese, Cuban, Middle Eastern and more, she travels around Michigan with a van-load of all kinds of drums and percussion sharing her love for the universal groove that touches hearts and brings folks together in rhythm. She’ll try any musical instrument, and encourages others to get spontaneous, creative, silly and connected through music and all kinds of rhythmic expressions – drum, dance, voice, etc.
Jenn is crazy about the djembe! She believes that the djembe has an incredible power to heal, transform and energize, and she loves to share it with anyone who wants to learn. Jenn teaches kids and adults in all different settings – schools, camps, private classes, group classes, and even workshops in the workplace. She has taught private, semi-private and group lessons, as well as workshops at Deep River’s Art Camp and at schools in the Deep River area.
The first time she went to the Ontario Womyn’s Drum Camp she experienced the full energy that the djembe could give, and the sounds it could have when using West African technique…and she’s been hooked ever since. She bought a drum after her first day at camp, and even traveled to Guinea that winter to study at the source! Jenn loves to drum more and more every day, and jovially describes her relationship with the djembe as a “sickness”. That said, she is in no rush to cure her djembe fever!
Suzanne has enjoyed years of work in the areas of fitness, dance, yoga and Reiki Healing. This experience and a passion for guiding others to a place of gratitude, peace and well-being are the perfect blend for leading ‘Awaken The Day’ and ‘Soothe Your Soul’.
Caroll Halford CLMC, Crone, grandmother, mother, sacred circle dance facilitator and Lebed Method of Movement & Healing. Weaver of dance & ritual to help build and strengthen community, celebrate birth, death & all the many milestones in between. Caroll has facilitated SCD at Drum Camp, Dance Camp, Red Tent, many different spiritual gatherings and facilitates a weekly dance group in London. Dance has been her teacher and continues to provide her with gifts beyond measure.
The dances she will bring will add a richness to the everyday whether alone or in group gatherings. We will dance for community, for joy, for healing and for finding the quiet space in the center of our being as we honour the sacred both in ourselves and in each other.
Nationally recognized musician, drummer, poet, master teacher of hand drumming, founder of the Million Women Drummers Gathering 2013 (MWDG), the Drumsong Institute Museum and Archives of Women’s Drumming Traditions, Music Director of the National Drumsong Orchestra, the ShapeShifters, and cofounder of the Catskill Mountain “Happen’n” Women’s World Drum Retreat.
Ubaka is featured in various articles, books and documentaries regarding women’s leadership, empowerment, and women’s drumming traditions, healing and positive social change, such as “Radical Harmonies”, “Garden Built by Eves”, the Hudson Valley Chronogram and the Almanac. Ubaka is a member of the Advisory Council of the new Women’s Leadership Center at the Omega Institute. Ubaka has worked with many esteemed creative artists, some are on her 3 CDs, “ShapeShifters”, “Dance the Spiral Dance” and “Beyond the Wind”. Upcoming concerts and workshops include the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Omega Institute (NY), Amazon Festival, and Ontario Women’s Drum Camp (Canada).
Ubaka loves to teach and perform to bring transformational energy and joy to her audiences, which she has been doing for over 30 years! In addition to traveling nationally, Ubaka makes a point to offer local Drumsong Workshops and Concerts for the Hudson Valley/Catskill Mountain area, where she makes her home. She has presented her workshops and concerts at Kripalu, Backstage Productions, Mirabai Books and the Colony Café in Woodstock, NY.
Queen is a visionary and holds sacred ancestral traditions while channeling Nu and tangible ways to apply these birth rites to our daily lives. She is creatress of ancestor’s daughters and ongoing young women’s rite of passage community empowerment movement, since 1999, located in Long Beach, California. This community movement encourages awareness of our oneness with all that is, self-empowerment and an inner knowing that we are infinite possibilities.
Queen teaches Nu Traditional Afrikan Dance Movement. She is visionary to a combination of ancient ancestral movements and modern concepts that fill each movement with intentions of physical, emotional balance and well being whereby self-empowerment via self expression unfolds harmony and the desired state of being.
Sheila has been drumming for the last 30 years, ever since being introduced to the primal magic of the drum by master percussionist Ubaka Hill.
After studying percussion with various drummers here and internationally, she has been facilitating workshops and drum circles for many groups in Southwestern Ontario, including schools, universities, camps, nursing homes, conferences and agencies.
In addition to facilitating drumming, Sheila is also a member of percussion groups in London, including “The London Groove Collective”, and sings and plays with WomenSpiritSong choir and Joyful Noise choir. Sheila is a proud volunteer at My Sister’s Place, the Grand Theatre, the Women’s Circle at Brescia, and Heart-Links, a small London NGO which walks in solidarity with a community of women and children in the desert regions of Northern Peru.
The experience of introducing new drummers to the ease and joy of music making with the drum has been a prime motivator for Sheila’s continued success. There is nothing like witnessing someone relaxing into their own rhythm and having fun contributing to the music of the whole drumming community.
Andrea Kuzmich is an award winning singer, a teacher, an ethnomusicologist and music facilitator. Her eclectic musical activities defy her conventional classical beginnings where by the age of 16 she was a cellist with the McMaster Symphony and had sung in four different Canadian Opera Company productions. Andrea has also: sung in a Congolese Gospel Choir; studied Balkan folk music, South Indian singing and drumming, and West African drumming; performed in Big Bands, small jazz combos, as well as contemporary new music ensembles; taken a leading role in the practice of ridnyj holos (Ukrainian traditional singing) in Canada through Kosa Kolektiv and Kalendar (formerly KalynDar); become one of Canada’s foremost practitioners and academics of Georgian polyphony; and sings in the award winning ensemble ZARI as well as with her family, which was most recently featured in Toronto’s Body Percussion Festival 2017 at Toronto’s Harboufront Centre Theatre. Inspired by this diversity, she started MusiCamp in 2013, a Toronto studio that hosts workshops, kids camps and facilitates musical events. She can be heard on Veryan Weston’s “Make” (2017); Tanya Tagaq’s “Retribution” (2016); DoVira’s “DoVira” (2016); Kalendar’s “Sichen” (2016); ZARI’s “ZARI” (2008); Whitney’s Smith Big Steam Band’s “Swing’s Mistress” (1998); movie soundtrack “The Witch” (2015); documentary soundtrack “What is Love” (2016), among others.
Elisha MacMillan has worked with over 2000 women in the past 8 years using the sacred art of dance for empowerment, healing and manifestation. A business & life coach, sociologist, healer, intuitive, leader, international retreat facilitator, and lover of life & beauty, Elisha believes in the power of dance to manifest, heal, form community, and (re)connect us with our inner JOY!
She draws heavily from her experiences of living in Guinea, Mali and Ethiopia, while studying dance. Elisha has toured starring in Award-winning performances nationally & internationally during her career in African dance, and grew up studying classical dance forms.
In her business Manifest Dance (manifestdance.com), Elisha helps women tap into their fierce courage and wild pleasure, so they can manifest the life of their dreams. She teaches the art of unlocking sensuality, accessing embodied wisdom, and tapping into the flow of Woman-Power, using movement and dance.
Kathleen began dancing at age 4, with the usual ballet and tap and continued through college. After a break to have children, 13 years ago Kathleen attended a beginner’s belly dance class and fell in love with it. She decided to start formal training, and sought out classes and instructors that taught the classic Egyptian, as well as folkloric style. From there, Kathleen discovered American Tribal Style (ATS) and studied Carolena Nereccio of Fat Chance Belly Dance. Kathleen keeps current with both tribal and cabaret styles of belly dance through studying with master instructors such as Ranya Renee, Morocco, Dahlena, Elena Lentini, The Indigo, Zafira Dance Company and Ultra Gypsy as often as possible, and also conducts research of the history of Middle Eastern dance, music, and culture.
Kathleen first began performing with Folkloric Dance Studio. With two other womyn from that studio she formed Hip Chik Raks, a cabaret and ATS dance troupe. Today, Kathleen studies and performs with Kadri of Sol Vibes in Buffalo, New York. She is also one half of the belly dance duet Khyf.
Kathleen performs and studies all styles of belly dance from Classical Egyptian to World Fusion Tribal. She also enjoys performing and has a deep passion for African drumming and dance, Studying with masters like Ubaka Hill, Queen and Afia Walking Tree has done everything to enhance her appreciation of all dance and music.
Tara Mhic Coinnigh
Tara is like a musical Swiss Army Knife. She is an arranger and director of Rock The Sound Adult Choir, Teen A Cappella Team and the Elemental Drum Choir. Her post secondary studies in classical voice, jazz and world music have given her an incredible foundation to help musicians explore musical diversity.
Her professional singing career began at 14 and included extensive touring in 14 countries, 250 recordings as a session musician as a vocalist/multi-instrumentalist, scored music for a documentary on world indigenous music, and 5 studio albums to her credit.
As a master level vocal coach with 25 years of coaching experience, Tara teaches beginner and advanced students vocal mechanics/technique and stage performance. As a drum teacher, Tara is excited about reconnecting people to ancestral traditions and respect of the drum as a medicine, source of inspiration, and as a meditative practice.
Anna stumbled upon her first djembe in 1996 and was called to study traditional Mande drumming. Her love affair with traditional Mande polyrhythms led her to Guinea, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and all over North America in search of teachers. While her travels have exposed her to a wide range of teachers, her drumming roots will always be with the lineage of Malinke master drummer Famoudou Konate and his extended family.
Anna knows that study of the djembe will be a lifelong practice for her. Aside from teaching weekly classes both north of the city and out of her downtown studio, she currently teaches djembe at York University, where she began training the first York Mande Drum Ensemble in 2003. She’s been relentless in her commitment to accurately transmitting traditional djembe and dundun teaching to her students, who come from all over the world.
As a teacher, she’s gifted in her ability to translate traditional Mande musical and cultural concepts for novices as well as the advance level drummer. Anna has been instrumental in planting the seeds of traditional djembe music in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond.
Barb Pitcher’s background as a percussionist extends more than 40 years and had studied with Master drummers Layne Redmond, Glen Velez, Arthur Hull, Ubaka Hill and many others. Barb shares her enthusiasm with all those who comes to circles and classes she facilitates. Her passion for creating community, teamwork, and fostering common unity through rhythm is to allow everyone, regardless of ability, to experience the powerful, diverse rhythmic culture created when we drum together.
This ancient instrument was used in life’s rites and rituals by our ancestral Mothers. The tambourine combines the ancient instruments of sistrum and frame drum. The metal sounds of the jingles have been used in many cultures for the purification and energy raining. The four basic strokes played on this drum are related to the elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth and connect with the energy chakras centers in the body.
Caru Thompson, Shekere Master, teaches and instructs Shekere/Bell/Performance workshops in Ontario, Quebec, the USA, and abroad (including England, Trinidad, and Barbados). She is a member of ASE (Ah-Shay) and Women Of The Calabash, and performs solo and with other internationally known musicians/entertainers. Recording credits include ASE, Ubaka Hill, and Motown artists. Film credits include academy award winning Black Is…Black Ain’t, Marlon Riggs, Prod/Dir., A Litany For Survival: The Life & Work of Audre Lorde.
A percussionist with a versatile ear, Caru has co-composed for Liturgical Dance at the NY Theological Seminary and established and directed a folkoric performance group of Senior Women (The Shekerettes).
Known as Shekere Queen of the Top Hand, Caru writes and performs poetry and storytelling and is the Keeper of Traditions through the Word. Caru sees Music as the universal language and uses it as a healing and empowerment tool. She facilitates workshops for Pre-school through Senior adults. Caru is writing “The Gourd Stories”.
As a social worker, her clients are people in Harlem, New York with HIV and AIDS, who have been chronically homeless.
Terri is an Expressive Arts Therapist, Facilitator, and Educator who is dedicated to sharing the therapeutic value of creative expression through Drumming and Expressive Arts workshops. For the past 10 years, Terri has studied and taught West African Drumming and World Percussion. She is a trained Expressive Arts Therapist and Drum Circle Facilitator. Terri participated in HealthRhythm’s Group Empowerment Drumming Facilitator Training Program, Village Music Facilitator Training Program, completed a three week West African Drum and Dance Intensive with Company Fore-Fote in Guinea, Africa, holds a BA Honors in English from McMaster University, and is a graduate of Expressive Arts Therapy at The C.R.E.A.T.E. Institute.
Through her business Rhythmic by Nature, Terri facilitates Drumming Programs at schools, social service agencies, and for small and large businesses for the purpose of team building, wellness, recreation, and education.
Terri brings her gentle and affirming leadership skills to her empowering, resourceful, and community building workshops. She honors each participant’s unique gifts, is an empathetic role model, a good listener and an intuitive guide.
Catherine teaches the art of djembe, its tradition and culture. Teacher and artist, her djembe workshops are both authentic and challenging, bringing the fun and the passion up!
Catherine holds a university degree in education and was a teacher for twelve years. She learned West-African percussion and dance from different master drummers in Canada, the United-States and Guinea West-Africa and she has taught West-African percussion since 2005.
From 2002 to 2009, Catherine was a founder, artistic director and artist for Yayé. She is also a co-founder and djembe soloist for Cobra du Mandingue, a professionnal drum and dance company since 2009. She produces and plays as a soloist at the Djembe d’or concert which brings together Cobra du Mandingue and master drummers and dancers. She is the only woman soloist among the masters.
Catherine works with several local and international musicians and contributes to the development of the African dance and drum community in the Ottawa area through her teaching, performances and activities organized during the year but her real strength lies in the workshops she teaches as she combines her teaching experience to her passionate artistic side to offer a unique experience of the Guinean percussion world!
Afia Walking Tree
DRUM is EARTH medicine, and one of our greatest allies in these times of great upheaval and renewal. Using the drum as a vehicle, we invite earth vibrations into our body temples. The DRUM serves as transformational guide, companion, and activator. Ancient Afrakan cultures were/are grounded in these prime principles and gave enslaved Afrakans wings through much grief, violence and oppression. We NEED these drums again in our midst and women are finding our voices through these ancient rhythms and expressions that are transforming our communication of an empowered voice, we MUST share it with our African brothers and sisters so the gift comes full circle.
Afia Walking Tree, M.Ed. Jamaican-born and raised, internationally acclaimed percussionist and visionary facilitator. Afia blends her love for both earth and drum into sustainable life-art practices. Her work is dedicated to authentic edutainment performances, lectures, coaching, and permaculture garden and landscape designs. Afia is an adjunct professor at Holy Names University, California Institute for Integral Studies, and Sophia University.
I am grateful to be joined by Larissa Montfort and Mar Stevens (http://www.sistahsofthedrums.org), who have been sharing the MA Ajuba Nana Buruku Drum Legacy with me for many years in California, first as students, drum activists, apprentices, and now sharing the medicine in communities of their own, spreading this joyous medicine.
Pele Yemaya was formally trained in piano at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago Illinois from age 6-16. Beethoven soon became Boogie. In 1990, the tragic loss of her sister first made her give up on music. However, time passed and she was quietly led to the path of the drum. Unknowingly she let go of her thinking of never playing another note again, and learned to say “never say never”. Pele found herself intrigued with the rhythms of Ubaka Hill at Michfest in 1993, and this began her path with the drum with the 1st Drumsong Orchestra.
Over the last 21 years, Pele has studied with Ubaka Hill, Linda Thomas Jones, Edwinda Lee Tyler, Fatu , Deb Mc Gee (Ase’), Paloma (Repercussions), and Afia Walking Tree. She has had the pleasure of being a part of The Drumsong Orchestra on Ubaka Hill’s CDs Dance the Spiral Dance and ShapeShifters.
In 2008, she traveled to Roume, Guinea (Africa) to study drum and dance with Afia Walking Tree and M. Lamine ‘Dibo’ Camara, principle soloist for Les Ballets d’Afrique Noire de Mansour Gueye. During that time, she fell in love with drumming for traditional African dance, and has since become Queen’s lead drummer for Nu Traditional African Dance.
Over the past 21 years, Pele has not only studied djembe but has also learned rhythm with Dundun, Samban and Kenkeni drums and enjoys hosting local drum circles for the empowerment of womyn.
Let it be said…
Everyone walks with the rhythm of life…..everyone is a drummer. If you have a heartbeat then you are a drummer.