‘The djembe is a symbol of joy!’ (Mohamed Bangoura)
The djembe was created to express joy and to celebrate life. Drummergirl teachers and performers embrace this notion and aim to make all aspects of drumming as fun and joy-filled as possible for all participants and audiences.
These are the people that make it happen.
Simone Lang – founder & director of joy
Simone Lang is the founder & director of Drummergirl and has been studying West African drumming and percussion for over 17 years. She has studied with some of West Africa’s finest exponents of the tradition including Mohamed ‘Bangourake’ Bangoura, Lamine ‘Lopez’ Soumah of Percussion de Guinee, Mamady Keita and Famoudou Konate. Simone has travelled to the countries of Guinea, Senegal and The Gambia to study and absorb West African drumming and culture.
In 2012 Simone completed intensive study in San Diego and Bali with Grand Master Mamady Kieta one of the world’s most important exponents and educators of the Mandingue tradition.
As a facilitator and instructor, Simone is renowned for her charismatic approach and she imparts her knowledge of West African drumming and culture with integrity and buoyant enthusiasm.
Jacqueline Gawler – drummer/percussionist & lead vocalist
Jacqueline is a trained dun-dun player, and is well-known for her work as a Jazz and A Capella singer/composer (www.jacquelinegawler.com). Jacqueline has travelled to The Gambia and Senegal in West Africa and Bali, Indonesia for intensive study of Malinke drumming and culture.
Jacqueline is a singer/percussionist/composer with internationally award-winning vocal/percussion group Coco’s Lunch with whom she has composed and recorded five acclaimed albums as well as releasing her own solo album ‘Ambrosia’. She has toured around the world for the past 12 years with Coco’s Lunch and currently performs as a freelance Jazz vocalist with ensembles including Stoneflower and The Jacqueline Gawler Band.
Juli Black – drummer/percussionist
Juli is a passionate aficionado of West African music and culture and has been fortunate enough to be mentored by amazing teachers in Australia including Simon Fraser, Simone Lang, Ben Coleman and Mady Keita. She has also spent time studying in Guinea West Africa with Grand Master Drummer Mamady Keita and Tam Tam Mandigue Professor Monette Keita.
Juli loves nothing more than sharing the joy of West African music with others. She is a key member of the Drummergirl performance and teaching team.
Mitzi McRae – dancer, singer and drummer
Mitzi has studied West African dance for over 15 years and has travelled to Africa (Ghana, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia and Mali) many times and also to the United States to further her knowledge by learning from the Masters. She is a natural at teaching African dance and has been doing so for more than 10 years. Mitzi has developed a unique style and she creates a relaxed and open environment which is cherished by her students.
Mitzi has been hailed as one of Australia’s best non-African female dancers and captures the energy, vitality, joy and strength of the African dance style. Many of her students have been attending classes for as long as she has been teaching!