The Drummergirl Team
Simone Lang – Founder & Creative director
Drummergirl is directed and led by Simone Lang, arguably one of Australia’s finest and most proficient women playing djembe rhythms from the Mandingue tradition. Simone has studied traditional West African drumming rhythms and culture for much of her adult life and strongly believes in the power of the drum to bring people together, uplifting audiences and participants alike. Working with some of Australia’s outstanding finest women drummers Simone creates awe-inspiring performances and workshops that bring joy to all who participate. Simone takes genuine pride in promoting and inspiring women through the powerful action of rhythmic drumming.
Simone 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. She has travelled to the countries of Guinea, Senegal and The Gambia to study and absorb West African drumming whilst being immersed in the community and culture.
As a teacher and performer, Simone is renowned for her charismatic approach and for her enthusiasm for sharing her knowledge of West African music and culture.
Simone currently teaches in schools across Melbourne’s Western suburbs for the Australian Children’s Music Foundation, an organisation devoted to providing music education to disadvantaged children across Australia. To find out more about ACMF visit acmf.com.au.
Jacqueline Gawler – Drummer/Percussionist
Jacqueline is a trained dun-dun player, and is well-known for her work as a Jazz and A Capella singer and composer (www.jacquelinegawler.com). She has travelled the globe for intensive study of Malinke drumming and culture.
Jacqueline is an integral part of the internationally award-winning 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 internationally 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 Mamady Keita and Tam Tam Mandigue Professor Monette Marino (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!