Like almost every field of work in this huge world of professionals, drumming is also a hugely male-dominated profession or hobby (for some). Although women make up 50 percent of the population, they’re count for less than 10 percent of drummers. However, there are some amazing ladies who have been pounding rhythms and making you groove though the years.
Keeping an eye on the global rise of female drummers, here’s a list of the women making an impact on the art and inspiring current and future generations to pick up those sticks and slam those grooves!
Probably the first drummer out there, male or female, to show us how YouTube can be the key to viral presence, Meytal Cohen has been slaying drum covers of popular rock, metal and progressive music for more than a decade at least. And beat the drums she does! She became vastly popular with her covers of famous songs from a plethora of bands like Foo Fighters, Tool, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, and many more, and still delivers consistently in every song she attempts.
One of the biggest names in the drumming community, known for the balance she strikes between smooth grooving and scintillating technical skill, Cindy Blackman is an icon in her own right. She has played and toured with the likes of Santana and the earlier works of Lenny Kravitz. Her now husband Carlos Santana proposed to her after her drum solo, on-stage during a concert in the US. Stuff of dreams!
Lovingly dubbed as ‘grandma drummer’ or ‘The Godmother of Drums’, drum educator and veteran with 57 years of playing and teaching experience, Dorothea Taylor is always surprising people with covers of metal songs on YouTube! She has a soothing demeanor, just like a happy grandma, but don’t let that take away the fact that she can bash the drums to songs from bands like Disturbed, Slipknot, Paramore, etc.
Another talented veteran who has to be on this list – Sheila E. – an all-round musician, singer, drummer and percussionist. She has released a lot of her own music, but is notably recognized as Prince’s drummer. Hard-hitting, skillfully and technically adept, easily one of history’s biggest names in the female drumming community, an inspiration to many!
This cute little kid drummer Nandi Bushell became popular during COVID lockdowns, initially with her cover of System Of A Down’s ‘Toxicity’, scrappy but spirited! Her expressions and enthusiasm just reminded us why we like playing drums. And this amazing attitude got the attention of several real-life rock-stars, most particularly Dave Grohl, who accepted a drum-off challenge by the 11-year-old Bushell, and now has made appearances in Foo Fighters’ concerts as well. Well done, kiddo!
Nao Kawakita is the drummer and backing vocalist of the energetic Japanese nu-metal band Maximum The Hormone. A total badass, her doctors had to force her into bedrest and had to have gigs cancelled because of some bodily complications caused by playing drums during pregnancy, to her absolute frustration! You need to listen to the chaotic brand of metal that the band plays to get perspective on why Nao was advised complete bedrest and not to play drums for a while.
With buttery smooth playing technique, a drummer who is now admired around the world and especially within the drumming community, Anika Nilles impresses with her musical approach to the instrument. She is also a composer and producer and has released 2 albums with her backing band Nevell. She was memorably featured on the cover of Modern Drummer Magazine in the June 2017 edition, promoting the release of her debut album ‘Pikalar’, and has been riding high ever since.
One hell of a talented musician and entrepreneur, Holly Madge has played and toured with Frank Turner, Idris Elba and the amazing Hans Zimmer as well. She is a prolific performer and other than drumming, is into fashion, and has her own brand – Sailaway Dresses. Apart from that she does sessions as a drummer and a percussionist and travels the world with multiple bands, and also has appeared in unique projects such as Femme Fusion, a diverse collective of female musicians from all over the world.
Honorable mentions –
Taylor Gordon (The Pocket Queen)
Let the ladies of this world of percussion inspire a rhythmic revolution!
Featured Image of Meytal Cohen via wallhere.com