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    Carolyn Brandy Is Born to Drum

    bradyAll of us at the San Francisco Bay Times were completely blown away by legendary drummer Carolyn Brandy who, along with other incredible Women’s Music musicians, joined us at the San Francisco Pride Parade. Thanks to their talent and performances, we won an “Absolutely Fabulous Musical Contingent” Award from SF Pride! Brandy and her powerful “Sistah Boom” drum corps literally led the way, marching ahead of our double-decker cable car packed with the largest assemblage of Women’s Music stars ever to appear in a Pride Parade contingent.

    We all marveled at how Brandy effortlessly worked with her extremely talented team, inspiring them to reach their high potentials. She is a true professional, and it really shows. Just watching her is a treat, as she is coolness personified. The rhythms created by Sistah Boom were so empowering that young girls (family members of some of our guests and team) woke up the next morning saying that they too wanted to be professional drummers.

    Now you or the women in your life can learn from Brandy at the Born to Drum Women’s Drum Camp, July 17, 18 and 19, at Bort Meadows, Chabot Regional Park, Oakland. This year is the highly successful camp’s 9th anniversary. The program offers a weekend of camping, camaraderie and fun, with drum workshops and circles taught not only by Brandy, but also by some of the other best known and respected women drummers in the world.

    brady2The faculty includes musicians who have been drumming for most of their lives. They come from all over the globe: The Congo, Ghana, Venezuela, and Jamaica. Native American drumming will also be represented. The camp additionally includes classes in Mid-Eastern, Cuban, Brazilian and West African drumming. There will be improvisation, as well as drum circles. This is a camp for beginners to advanced drummers, and there will be drums available for those who don’t have their own.

    Brandy, who co-founded both Sistah Boom and the band Alive!, started drumming way back in 1968. She quickly learned that women were not supposed to “do that kind of thing.” Undaunted, she broke through many taboos related to women drumming, and further learned that such destructive customs not only existed in the U.S., but also that the “women don’t drum” rule was prevalent all over the world. From Africa to Asia to Latin America and more, this cultural taboo was firmly upheld for years.

    brady3As a result, the women who gathered at those first Born to Drum Camps all shared stories about the abuse they had received in their countries because of the restrictive mentality. Some were told that if they drummed they would bleed to death, that their breasts would fall to the ground, or that they could be killed if they dared to teach other women.

    Fortunately, the old paradigms have been changing in the last 20 years. There are now millions of women playing and wanting to play drums all over the world. And why not? The drum is a magical instrument, a call to gather, a circle of community, and a healing medicine. The first sound we hear is the beating of our mother’s heartbeat. The drum is a woman!

    brady4So treat yourself this summer and come to Born to Drum. Experience the wonderful and magical activity of joining with others to make music, to play drums, to sing and dance, and to learn about other cultures. Come for a day or come for the weekend. The cost is a sliding scale: Day passes are $50–100 per day. The cost of the whole weekend is a sliding scale of $150–450/full weekend.

    For more information and to register, please go to or phone 510-464-5902.