‘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 at drummergirl.
Simone Lang – founder & creative director
When Simone decided that her chosen profession of Environmental Consulting wasn’t for her, she turned to her long-time passion of drumming and Drummergirl emerged. This was way back in 2007 and, since then, Simone has been traipsing around the country teaching, performing, and sharing her love of African drumming as much as she can.
Simone caught the African drumming bug in 1998 and a few years later took herself off to Guinea, West Africa to deepen her understanding. For her, this was a life-changing event.
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.
Recently, Simone completed intensive study with Grand Masters Mamady Kieta and Famoudou Konate, two of the world’s most important exponents and educators of the Mandingue tradition.
As a teacher and performer, Simone is renowned for her charismatic approach and she imparts her knowledge of West African drumming and culture with integrity and 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 the lead giggle-creator in the team, and is a key member of the Drummergirl performance and teaching crew.
Anna Camara – drummer/percussionist
Melbourne percussionist Anna Camara has been captivated by African drumming from the age of 10 and has since studied many different types and styles of percussion. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music Performance with Honours at the Victorian College of the Arts, (specialising in Repertoire Percussion) and then went on to complete an Honours research paper on the traditional Guinean and Western repertoire percussion pedagogies.
Anna has traveled to Guinea West Africa on numerous occasions to study djembe, dun duns, balafon, dance and song (funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and Friends of the VCA). She has performed as a soloist with the VCA Symphony Orchestra, for the APRA Screen Music Awards, the APRA Art Music Awards, and played for the soundtrack of Australian film Bran Nue Dae. Anna currently works as a freelance percussionist with various orchestras and new music ensembles, teaches repertoire percussion in schools, is business director of Rhythm of Life African Drumming, and plays balafon in contemporary Guinean band Jarabi.
Anna is a highly accomplished and celebrated percussionist, and has received many performance awards for her outstanding work.
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!