Women In Music: Badass Female Drummers

Women In Music: Badass Female Drummers

By Anise Smith

I am a huge fan of music of all genres, old school R&B, classic rock, alternative and more. If it’s good music, I love it! I grew up in an era when music was changing and a lot was changing in my life. I was raised in a tougher part of Philadelphia in a primarily black neighborhood where you had to prove your blackness on a regular basis. If you did well in school, if your hair was little straighter, if you listened to different types of music and/ or you spoke proper English you were labeled as one of “those people ..Trying to be white”. I call bullshit on that, but then there’s and entirely different post that I’ll need write in order to address that crap. Bygones….


Well, since I matched all of the above criteria my dad knew by the time I was 13 that I needed to venture outside of the neighborhood if I was to reach my full potential. So my father, who was a single dad, went to the school board of Philadelphia to push for me to be allowed to venture outside of my neighborhood to attend school. He was successful and this is how I learned so much about so many things including music. This move really changed my life.


I attended a school so far outside of my neighborhood that I had to travel by way of 3 buses and wake up at 5:30 am to make it to class on time, but it was really an enlightening experience for me. At the age of 14 it was a challenge, but I knew even then that it would be life changing. Quite frankly, growing up in a primarily black neighborhood I had never seen so many white people in my life and was like “What the HELLZ” for the first few months. I remember thinking; all of the white people on the entire planet must attend this school, in my 14 year old brilliant logic. Once I got past the culture shock, I started to learn more about so many other cultures and music was one of the things that I totally embraced. I learned to expand my music horizons beyond what I heard in my neighborhood. This is when I started to love so many different kinds of music and this love of music has continued to grow.


I attended high school in the 80’s and it was during a time of lots of transitions in the music industry, the world and for me personally. Rap was in its infancy, R& B was changing, hair bands like Bon Jovi and Cinderella were mainstream and old classics like Led Zepplin, Marvin Gaye and others were at the forefront of the music scene. As a lover of music I was embracing all of these and learning more about so many different genres of music. This is when I started to really focus on the different elements of the more prominent bands.


Many will argue with me but drummers are the backbone to any great band. Without a drummer bands are really lackluster. Some of my absolute favorite drummers are Phil Collins, Rick Allen of Def Leppard and Quest Love of the Roots. These drummers are pretty well known and very mainstream but there are a few very unrecognized WOMEN drummers that could give all of these guys a run for their money! So below are the 3 most amazing female drummers ever! Take a listen and let me know what you think.


Cindy Blackman: Best know for rockin “Are You Gonna’ Go my way” for Lenny Kravitz. Cindy Blackman sometimes known as Cindy Blackman-Santana, is an American jazz and rock drummer and wife to mega star Carlos Santana.


Sheila E: Know for rocking with Prince and the Revolution. Born in California, Sheila E. is the daughter of percussionist Pete Escovedo, with whom she frequently performs. Sheila E’s godfather is the fabulous Tito Puente.


Kim Thompson: Kim was born in Los Angeles, CA, raised in St. Louis, Missouri and is a part of Beyonce’s all female band. Young up and coming and pretty darn awesome!


Music has changed so much since the 80’s but it still has the ability to cross cultural lines and touch our hearts. That’s one thing that I think will never change.


Do yourself a favor and check out more of these ladies if you are a music lover! If you know of another rockstar female drummer let me know I would love to have a listen!

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  1. Jason Ramsey says:

    You have no idea how much I love this post! Great job Anise.

  2. Sandy says:

    As a female musician myself, I love that you touched on Kim Thompson. It’s so easy to single out women who are household names, like Sheila E, and so easy to forget about the talented background musicians who provide the music for top singers, like Beyonce. I was browsing a list of female drummers over at http://www.ranker.com/list/best-female-drummers/rockboy and they had a few like that, but most were members of bands rather than simply an accompanying musician to another star. Thanks for reminding us that it takes an army and all are equally deserving of our praise!

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