Thursday, July 28, 2016

Daughters of Creative Sound

Today, four members of Daughters of Creative Sound, an African-American women's drum and percussion group, came to visit the Riverside-Salem Environmental Chapel. They performed a variety of drum songs, told stories, and sang songs. The four who came were Yvonne Harris ("Big Mama Blue), Sharon Holley, Karima Amin, and Sandra Williams Bush.

They started with a "hello song" that came from Malawi, a landlocked nation in southeastern Africa. It borders Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia. In this hello song, greetings are extended from and entire person, not just the person's voice.

"Hello. I see you with my eyes. I see you with my heart. I see you with all of me."


The drummers played several songs. They also sang songs and they told stories. One of the songs that was sung was a tribute to the water, "praising and honoring the supreme creator who is responsible for everything that we get." Another song was a tribute to one of the founders of Daughters of Creative Sound Nia Mary Alice Boyd, who passed away in 2005.

The drummers invited us to be part of the music by dancing. They also talked about the drums and what the drumbeat meant. The drumbeat, said Karima, is "the first sound you hear before you're born." The baby hears the mother's heartbeat and is soothed by that. Sandra said, "We went to a women's drumming camp." Several hundred women were at the camp. One of the unique things about the camp was that four women drummed a mother drum. They were playing a heartbeat. "It never stopped," said Sandra. "Everyone had the chance to play the heartbeat."

"No matter where you were," Karima said, "You could hear the heartbeat."

Yvonne said, "The eyes of babies in strollers brightened when they heard the drums." She said that one of the instructors encouraged the students to listen to every day sounds and pick up their rhythm. As an example of listening to and reproducing an every day sound, the instructor repeated the rhythm of the washing machine.

The drum, Karima said, is a "living thing." Her drum is made of part of a tree and goat skin." Sharon's instrument is a shakeray. It is a hollowed out gourd with beads on the outside. Here in Western New York, gourds are very small. In warmer climates, the gourds grow larger because the growing season is longer.  Gourds are used as instruments, and they are also used as vessels to hold water, grains, or rice.

The rhythm of the heartbeat connects all humans. It is a comforting sound. "Drumming gives me comfort," Karima said.

The sound of the drumbeat brings us together because it comforts us and reminds us of the beating of our own hearts.

"We're all interrelated and interconnected," Karima said. 


The front row is Sandra Williams Bush, Karima Amin, and Yvonne Harris (Big Mama Blue). In back is Sharon Holley.


7 comments:

Alana said...

Love that about drumming and babies. I love the sounds of drumming; it calls you and you answer from somewhere deep inside you. I love that.

Jeanine said...

Sounds so wonderful! I love the invitation to dance, and what they said about the heartbeat.

"Hello. I see you with my eyes. I see you with my heart. I see you with all of me." ~ really love that, too.

Alice Gerard said...

Thank you, Alana and Jeanine.
I love the drums. They filled my heart with joy.

KK said...

Sure enjoyed this article. So great to see these wonderful ladies living out their purpose! Thanks for sharing.

Alice Gerard said...

Thank you so much, KK.

Malin Zetterstrom said...

Lovely! Yes drums, heart beat and life is really it - thank you so much for sharing!

Chuck said...

It was an excellent evening. Alice coaxed me from my seat to join her in dancing to the drums. It was mentioned that back when drumming was strictly a male thing, but that has changed over time due to people like the Daughters of Creative Sound.