Photo credit: Vaschelle Andre

Current members:

L to R: (standing) Cynthia Lewis, Sandy Mills, Charlene Gumbs,
Mar Stevens, Shawn Nealy, Salina Gray, (sitting) La Tanya Carmical.

Bios

Shawn R. Nealy
 For over 10 years I have been a social justice educator working with youth in the area of academics and the arts.  I am also a filmmaker and the Personal Development instructor for the Alvin Ailey summer dance program held on UC Berkeley’s campus.  Being a member of Sistahs of the Drum is like being in community as the spirit of the drums unite us as a collective force full of love and support. The power of Black women drumming together is so empowering and uplifting.  In addition, I enjoy touching people’s hearts with the beautiful rhythms we play that bring joy, laughter, and abundance to their lives.

Mar Stevens
 I am a drum warrior, who connected with my inner rhythms as a child drumming on my grade school desk. I began my drum journey over eleven years ago with Master Drummer, Afia Walking Tree, of Spirit Drumz. The drum has transformed my life and continues to inspire and heal me.  Drumming with Sistahs of the Drum is a powerful experience, and has helped me to continue growing as a woman drummer of African descent! 

Sandy Mills
Physician healer, teacher, writer, moon-child mother to all who know her.  Began this drum journey on her own path to healing.  I am forever grateful for the powerful connection drumming gives to the ancestors.  Thank you to all my teachers, Ache’ Ache’.



 



Cynthia Lewis
My drum journey actually began on the dance floor. I loved to dance to Rhythm and Blues, Samba, Hip Hop and African beats. Even if one is not feeling their best, the simplest dance step can provide solace and joy. With more involvement, I understood the roots of all these forms of music and dance were from the African Diaspora. African rhythms also are capable of bringing comfort, enlightenment, energy and joy. One cannot dance from sunrise to sunset, if there was a way, I would do it. I sustained an injury and was able to use the drum as a means of healing. Just like there are many expressive forms of dance, the same applies to drum songs. We are blessed in the Bay area with accomplished drummers and dancers. I have been mentored in West African and Congolese traditional rhythms and continue to appreciate exposure to new knowledge. Sistahs of the Drum has embraced me where I am today. I am honored to be in the presence of such a group of graceful and artistic women.




Charlene Gumbs
From a little girl playing on pots, pans and saltine cans; to playing congas, drum kits, and steel drums in my junior high school Steel Band. I love playing in ceremonies, rituals and at community functions, and elevating the crowd on dance floors with some of the best DJs. I give thanks and homage to my ancestors with every beat. Playing the drums and rhythms of my ancestors is my meditation, my healing, my joy!


Salina Gray
Movement and rhythm have been with me since the beginning. I am a mother, student and teacher. My love and sojourn in West African dance brought me to the drum. I've spent the past 5 years pursuing my doctorate in Science Education and Race Studies, and it has been the drum circle and fellowship of Sistahs of the Drum, that heals, sustains, motivates, and supports me.



La Tanya Carmical
An experienced freelance vocal and dance artist, La Tanya is versatile and adapts well to any style of music in both lead and background. She's developed her conga playing style studying Rolando Soto. She belongs to Women Drummers International and received training from legendary performers Annette Argentina Aguilar, Edwina Lee Tyler, Linda Tillery and Mabiba Baegne. La Tanya has performed Gospel, Rock, Funk, Punk, Soul, R&B and Classical styles (performing phonetically in several other languages, including French and Spanish). She has performed with Pete Escovedo, toured with members of the James Brown Band, recorded with Juan Escovedo, and her discography credits include Annie Sampson's (of Stone Ground) Under the MoonMic Gillette (Tower of Power), John Hart's Changing Seasons, Mark Russo (Kenny Loggins/Doobie Brothers), Steph Burns (Prince/Sheila E.) ConFunkShun,  Jennifer Holiday as well opening local venues for Greg Kihn.