1. How did you get your start playing drums?
I was introduced to percussion when I was 7 years old in Louisville, KY. My Language Arts and Reading teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School was Diane Downs who was also the founder and director of the percussion ensemble, The Fabulous Leopard Percussionists. The first time I played percussion I was HOOKED! The way Diane teaches is remarkable and addicting. Randomly in class after we had finished an assignment she would say "Okay! Let’s play!" What 3rd grader is going to argue with that? lol! We learned EVERYTHING by ear! Melodies, harmonies, hand percussion parts, bass lines, and drum set. Now looking back at it, it was very intense ear training early on and I am SO grateful to have started that way!
2. Who influenced you early on and who inspires you today?
My very first influence was John Bonham. His sound is so specific. The power he played with was mind blowing but at the same time he played with so much finesse it attracted me immediately. John Bonham was the first musician that I really studied stylistically and tried to mimic sound wise. These days I am really inspired by anyone with a love and passion for music. Especially the ones I am fortunate enough to jam with everyday. Playing in NPG has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. The quality of musicianship is immeasurable and the fun that is had can't be compared to anything else I've experienced. There's something to be said about the chemistry when you can have a room full of musicians jamming and not a word has to be spoken. It's magical, and every night I go to bed inspired to learn more and create more.
3) Take us through your cymbal set up. What do you listen for when choosing your cymbals?
Right now I am in LOVE with my Rezo series cymbals! The crashes, high hats, ride and splashes are all beautiful!! My choice of cymbal really depends on the gig I'm playing. For rock I like darker sounding cymbals so the K Customs usually do the trick. For jazz, pop, funk, and r&b I tend to stick with brighter sounding cymbals. But what I've noticed with the Rezo's is that they are EXTREMELY versatile and it almost seems like they conform to the music! I use them for EVERYTHING! I also can't forget to mention my Hybrid China's! Once I found my love for Zildjian those were in the first batch of cymbals I ordered years ago and I still use them!! They're beautiful!
4) What was it like getting a call from Prince? Tell us about your experience.
When I initially heard that Prince wanted to jam I wasn't sure if I believed it or not! It's not every day that someone like Prince reaches out to you! lol!! The experience is too great for words! Prince is a PHENOMENAL player, writer, producer, singer, and especially TEACHER! Once you think you understand how awesome he really is, he turns around and smacks you in the face with some funk and you're amazed all over again! lol Something that I've noticed and am incredibly thankful for is that he has not only managed to gather some of the best musicians, but also the best PEOPLE on the planet. Every person involved in this camp is humble, caring, and passionate. It's literally one huge family and I thank God every day for placing me in it.
5) What would you say your secret to success is? What advice would you give to someone who wanted to follow in your path?
Humility and heart. EVERY mentor I had growing up said to me, "remain humble...stay true to you." In this industry it's so easy to be misled and changed into someone that you're not. If you stay true to yourself and always remember the reason why you do what you do, you can't get distracted. It's all about the LOVE for the music. So many times in a day we hear "No! You can't do this. No! You won't be that!" I got tired of the negativity and eventually told myself "You can do ANYTHING you want to do!" I realized that at the end of the day the only person that can hold you back and keep you from succeeding is YOU! So stay encouraged, stay inspired, and never lose sight of the love that you have for your passion. My dad always told me "If the day ever comes when you're doing this for someone else and it no longer makes you happy, you need to do some soul searchin!" Keep that fire ignited and don't give ANY ONE the power to extinguish it!
6) What other hobbies do you have...or what are you doing when you're not playing drums?
I've always had a HUGE love for dance! I was a dancer from ages 3 to 17 and grew up in a family of dancers. So any chance I get I love taking class with my siblings or making up dances at home. I was always a pretty active kid growing up so working out is important to me as well! I also try to study the Bible with my husband as much as possible. I love God with all my heart and thank Him daily for the gifts He's given me. Being able to spend time with Him and study His word is a must for me! It's where a lot of my inspiration to write has been coming from lately! YAY JESUS! :-)
7) Tell us about your Peace, Love & Drums Project, and what compelled you to start it?
The PL&D show is something my dad and I came up with when I was in High School. It's a way to reach out to kids and inspire them to pick up percussion. To chase after their dreams with a determination that cannot be killed! I love to perform and also love motivational speaking and encouraging others. To be able to do both at the same time is a bonus for me. The show consists of about an hour’s worth of music. Normally playing to backing tracks but sometimes I have live musicians as well! In the middle of the show there is about 20-30 minutes just for some question answering. It's important to me that people leave my shows inspired and uplifted. So much of the music industry these days is negative; I want to make sure that I can be a light to people. It's refreshing to leave a concert happy and motivated and that's exactly what the PL&D show is all about! Peace, Love, and Drums!
THANK YOU ZILDJIAN FOR YOUR NEVER ENDING SUPPORT AND LOVE! FROM THE PEOPLE TO THE PRODUCT YOU ARE THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF QUALITY! I LOVE YOU ALL!!! GOD BLESS!! XOXO
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