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Me and my drum

January 25, 2015

Photo Credit: Docuvixen



I bought myself a djembe last year April for my birthday because I’d be dying to get one for years. She’s just right for me. I got her at African Drumming Shop in Toronto. She’s a thick girl, wide and bassy and she’s got a scar on her face like I do. I used to be a skeptic but I now believe in true love.

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I was really inspired by John Akpata’s piece he performed at our group show French-Akpata Connexion when he recited poetry over djembe. I tried so hard to play and speak but it was an uphill battle. Months later and many unrhythmic renditions later, I feel a bit more comfortable (not perfect, but comfortable) incorporating my drumming into my poetry sets. One show where I didn’t hide from my drumming skills at all was the recent Bold As Love event.


To Spiritual Song (<— this version John was actually playing and I hadn’t bought my drum yet, but it lay the foundation) I debuted my drumming on the stage. It was surprisingly nature, organic and a lot more fun than fearful. I returned to the stage the following Saturday at Smashmouth and again, tooted my djembe, now a semi-regular staple at my shows.

It’s a lot of fun! Recently I’ve befriended a big-hearted blues musician and we’re collaborating some blues-inspired riffs with traditional and not-so-traditional African rhythms. Opening myself up to more musical experiences has been beyond exciting.

It also makes room for my performance skills to grow while welcoming vulnerability into my shows. This vulnerability sparks my poetry to come alive. Some pieces, the ones I’ve committed to memory (as many spoken word artists can attest to) become dry and tired and performed the exact same way, like route memory. Infusing music, particularly an element that is new and unpolished into the mix, revives the long-ago mastered piece and creates new renditions that not only impresses the audience but keeps me, the performer, on her toes.

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Just an update on my drumming diaries. Many more percussive performances to come. Stay tuned to the blog or subscribe to my newsletter to get listings of all my shows in future.

Over and out!

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