SKF NOTE: I’ve had a soft spot since the early 1980s for what might seem to be unlikely musical collaborations. Bruce, an airline steward I met through Modern Drummer magazine, told me stories of how his job enabled him to move percussion instruments from one country to another. He liked to pass along the instruments without instruction, without telling the musician recipients something like, “Here’s how this instrument is played in China.”
Bruce liked to see and hear what the new percussion instrument owners would create on their own. I never heard the results of Bruce’s musical experiments, but I always loved the concept.
In the mid-1980s Nashville based studio musicians Edgar Meyer, Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Mark O’Connor, and others released several albums that fit neatly into no musical genre. The music was a mix of bluegrass, classical, jazz, pop — experimental music that often worked well. And even when the experiment missed, I still liked listening to them, and supported the musicians for their pioneering work.
Edgar Meyer, Mark O’Connor, and other players from that group began recording experimental music rooted in Appalachian folk music with Yo-Yo Ma. Ma came out with a few excellent albums recorded with Argentinian and Brazilian musicians. Then Yo-Yo Ma brought together, recorded and toured, with the Silk Road Ensemble with musicians representing “dozens of artistic traditions and countries, from Spain and Japan to Syria and the United States.”
Again, to my ears sometimes the Silk Road Ensemble music works, sometimes not. But I always listen.
So it is that this news story about Kenyan drummer Kasiva Mutua caught my eye. First, for her willingness to break through senseless customs about women playing drums, then for excelling at drumming, and then for her role in the musical collaborative group, The Nile Project.
I listened this morning to a couple of Kasiva Mutua interviews, and also, to bit of The Nile Project. Looking forward to listening some more.
cnn.com – 1/8/2018
Told not to drum, this woman is breaking a centuries-old taboo
Story by Stephanie Busari and Barry Neild
Photos and video by Edward Kiernan
Today, Mutua’s uplifting rhythms are in demand at music festivals and in recording studios around the world.
“Drumming has been a subject of taboo to women in Africa and me rising as a percussionist and going publicly with it and making a living out of it is problematic to some people,” she says.
Having learned traditional drumming from her grandmother, she took her skills to local contests, eventually defying expectations to win prizes and recognition.
And she’s using her energy and profile in Kenya and beyond to encourage other young women into music, with the aim of inspiring all-female bands.
“Women can do whatever they want,” Mutua says.
“It’s not about genders anymore, it’s about delivery,” she says….
…I feel like once you’ve proved to the world that you are just a human being doing an amazing job, people tend to accept you better.”