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Daughters of the Drum featuring Susu Pampanin: The Spirit of Sultana and Ojalá!

Doors at 7:30 pm; Show at 8:00 pm

Tickets are $25 Day of Show / $20 Advance  


Ashkenaz and Women Drummers International celebrate Women’s History Month with our March series of special concerts and workshops, the Maestra Series, featuring women musicians, dancers and poets from around the world. The nights are filled with inspired culture, singing, dancing, drumming, performers in new groupings, once-only collaborations, and reunions of pioneering women musicians.

Tonight’s concert and dance is a fundraiser for Born to Drum! Women’s Drum Camp, where most of these musicians serve as directors, teachers and leaders, with performances by two women-led percussion ensembles: Ojalá and Susu Pampanin: The Spirit of Sultana.

Susu Pampanin: Spirit of Sultana is a women’s percussion ensemble focused on drums, songs and dance from Egypt, Morocco and beyond. Pampanin’s heartbeat is her drum; her life stories are her songs; her dreams are her dances. Working most recently with singer Holly Near, she has been heard in numerous world music groups including Keith Terry’s Crosspulse, Wild Mango and Stellamara. Respected world-wide as a master of Arabic drumming, she leads Spirit of Sultana in songs, timeless melodies, intricate improvisations both melodic (taqasim), and vocal (mawwal, reminiscent of the ancient call to prayer) while highlighting the percussive sounds of its Middle Eastern rhythm section. The music draws inspiration from Andalusian, Tarab (Classic), Sufi, popular and folkloric genres. Pampanin says, “Spirit of Sultana aspires to take you to a faraway place, where the spirit of the queen lives.” In addition to Pampanin the group features percussionist-dancers TerriAnne Gutierrez and Amina Goodyear; oud player, singer and percussionist Fatima Zohra Lahlou and percussionist Mohini Rustagi.

Ojalá, which means “let it be so” or “hopefully,” is a group of five diverse and talented Maestra female percussionists and singers.  This group is rich in experience and shares a passion for music and culture.  Ojalá blends lushly harmonized original compositions and African-American song in a creative dialogue with Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and other percussion music of the Diaspora, including the music of the  traditional Cuban Batá drums. Originally formed by Carolyn Brandy (conga player and percussionist in all-women jazz band Alive!), the current Ojalá is Amikaeyla Gaston, Regina Wells, Michaelle Goerlitz, Elizabeth Sayre, Jules Hilson and Brandy.  This group came together in 2014 to travel to Santiago de Cuba upon an invitation to perform at the Encuentro de Mujeres Percusionistas at the 33rd annual Festival Del Caribe, the largest and oldest festival in Cuba. 

Ojalá has also performed Anthony Brown’s Asian American Orchestra in 2015 for his “1945: A Year of Infamy,” and for the 2016 premiere of his “We Insist! Freedom Now Suite,” based on the 1960 Max Roach and Oscar Brown civil rights recording.  Members of the group also work regularly with the Susana Arenas Dance Company and performed with her at the Diaspora Diner Concert at Ashkenaz, CubaCaribe Festival, SF Salsa/Rueda Festival, and the Yemanja Festival held annually in Berkeley.

Beneficiary of tonight’s concert is the 11th annual Born to Drum! Women’s Drum Camp, a four-day weekend (July 20-23) at Anthony Chabot Regional Park’s Bort Meadow, near Hayward. The program features camping, drum workshops, drum circles, songs, dance, fireside concerts, ecology workshops, yoga and movement, poetry, shared meals and camaraderie. Attendees can do the day camp, or bring camping gear and stay for the whole event.  

Eventbrite - Daughters of the Drum featuring Ojalá! and Susu Pampanin: The Spirit of Sultana