What does art mean to you? My journey as an artist has been great. There have been so many defining moments, and thankfully, I remember them all. I play and essentially speak through the drum, the NGOMA. When people ask me how long I’ve been playing drums, my answer always begins with me beating on pots and pans as a toddler, but soon takes a different twist every single time. Well, today I am still living the dream of that toddler with the wooden spoons, that pre-teen who made drums and played to songs like Cameo’s Candy and Word Up, or Parliment’s Atomic Dog. I would rock out on any song, by any artist of the day from L.L. Cool J to Boy George.
Now, I play with two bands of some of the most amazing poeple and musicians that I have encountered (and that’s saying a lot). From back in the day, I began at Havenview Jr. High playing drums for the majorettes, and we kicked some major a$$!! In the 8th grade we placed first in every weekly competition except one. Shout out to Damion, Kevin, Brian, Eric B, and certainly Will – R.I.P. (I know I missed a few – sorry fellas), and all the gorgeous little majorettes at the time. Those were the days!!
From there I went to Memphis Central High and got my first real taste at reading music and learning to play jazz. I would ride the bus to the Memphis Drum Shop and learn to swing and play latin rhythms. I wish that I had stuck to the drum set back then, but the marching bands were calling my name. I soon went to join the Sonic Boom of the South at Jackson State University. Wow, what an experience. My friend Erin introduced me to the Boom performing at Motown 25 via VHS. My mouth dropped to the floor and I was hooked! I had previously appiled to Fisk University, but immediately applied to JSU after that video. I soon joined the percussion section called War-N-Thunder. This was one of the proudest moments of my life. Playing these intricate cadences that spoke to the Afrikan experience just brought tears to my eyes. We had candences with names like Jungle Beat, African Walz, Laws, etc. You could feel the vibrations in your soul. I actually became the head section leader of this ensemble – who would’ve ever thought it possible?!? Well, it happened!
After college my dad helped me purchase my second drum kit (the one I still use to this day), and I was re-introduced to set drumming. I started learing a little reggae and soon my closest friends and I started a band called Fuzion. We were THE neo-soul cover band in Jackson, MS and we learned and grew so much as friends and as budding musicians. Originally, Fuzion was Ced and Lorenzo on the horns, Ventez on sound and percussion, Renee and Daiya on vocals, Derrrick on bass, Darryl on the keys, and of course yours truly on the drums.
It was only a short while later that I moved away from my second home in Jackson, and from there kept moving around until I made it Cleveland, OH. I must admit, the transition was nearly devastating for a while. The bitter cold, the bitter people, and I wasn’t able to play any music! Damn near drove me crazy. But, blessings were in order and ancestors answered! I was introduced to Umojah Nation Reggae Band through my friend Jomo, and the rest is still history in the making. Check us out! Now, in a strange turn of events, I went from helping start a poetry group to helping start a new group called Intercourse – the Collective. Yes, we make love… through music, spirit, and friendship.
One thought on “The Ngoma”
Wow, from mommies pots and pans in the kitchen, to your first little drum set around 4 till now, that continues to be a beautiful journey. Watching and listening to you play with your beloved Sonic Boom of the South was truly monumental. Of course I prayed to loose the fear I felt through those gruelling practices through the night. Deep down I knew you were being held up the Master. You always fought through your Asthma, to a fault sometimes. I love you my son.
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