To describe the emotions stirred by music is a task which goes beyond words. To put the magic of drum music into words is an even more daunting task. Drums of Thunder is a unique musical experience which, for the first time in New York City, puts the spotlight on the African drum in an all-day festival. The event- though a celebration of the wonders of African-influenced drumming- is also a unique competition. It is designed to give an opportunity to drummers from across the Diaspora to showcase their musicianship and artistry.
On Saturday, August 21, the sound of the drums will roll like thunder when the event kicks off at the Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn. A production of the Brotherhood of Man Youth Connection and C.A.R.E (Concerned Americans For Racial Equality). Drums of Thunder has attracted audiences from Boston to Washington who are expected to come by the busloads to support their favorite drummers. In Drums of Thunder, master drummers and drum ensembles from across the Diaspora will compete for cash prizes and a challenge trophy making this the veritable “World Cup” of drumming.
The daylong competition will feature ensembles from Trinidad & Tobago, Ghana, Haiti, Guyana and the United States. Ensembles will be required to play a piece of choice which incorporates the beats of three nations. Participants will be judged by a panel of expert drummers who also reflect an eclectic Diasporan mix.
The event is the brainchild of Rev. Andy Edwards, who is the leader of the Brotherhood of Man Spiritual Baptist/Orisha Church. “This idea was born out of a desire to replicate the Emancipation celebration which takes place annually in Trinidad & Tobago,” says Rev. Andy. “Though we hope to one day have a full-scale festival like in Trinidad & Tobago, we felt that African drumming – which is the cornerstone of that celebration- was the most transportable segment and hence Drums of Thunder was born. “I believe that it is incumbent upon us as Caribbean people living in the United States to engage in a meaningful celebration of the abolition of chattel slavery in the region,” he adds.
As part of the celebration, there will be lectures on the history of the African drum, drum-making workshops and demonstrations, poetry and dance workshops. Audience members will not be left out of the winnings as there will be opportunities to win a free djembe, among other giveaways.
In addition to the ensembles competition, there will be a category for individual male and female drummers. Prizes will be awarded to the three top place finishers in the ensemble category and the best overall drummer in the male and female individual categories.
A special prize will also be awarded for the best percussion section in the competition and the oldest and youngest drummers.
The celebration kicks off at 1:00 p.m. with a libation and a street drum call. Competition begins at 3:00 p.m. For tickets and information call 917-512-9778 or 718-623-8514.