CultureAfrican American Drummers – The beat goes on

African American Drummers – The beat goes on


African American culture is deeply rooted in music. From blues and jazz to rhythm and blues, hip-hop and rap, African American music has so much to offer. It’s no wonder drummers are such a central part of this thriving musical scene. Whether you play an instrument or not, keeping time with the drums is an essential skill for any musician. As a result, it’s only natural that black drummers have embraced the role they play in their own culture with gusto.

There are so many aspects of African American culture that revolve around music, and drumming is one of them. From the spiritual significance of the temple as a place of worship to the competitive nature of jam sessions, there’s always a reason for drummers to be at the center of everything from now until eternity.

African American drummers have played a vital role in preserving the rhythm and heritage of their culture throughout history. The drum is the heartbeat of African cultures, and those who have been fortunate to master this instrument are able to preserve the rhythm of their people through music. Drumming is commonly associated with African Americans, but it has also been an important part of many other cultures around the world as well. From North to South America, Africa has been an important source for drums for many different people. For that reason alone, there are many great African American drummers throughout history who deserve more recognition than they currently receive. Here is one to know.

Roy Haynes

Most Famous African American Drummers

On over 600 recordings, Haynes has played jazz drums for nearly half a century. In addition to legends like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Haynes has played in Rome, Tokyo, Istanbul, and other cities around the world. Haynes, who has played with legendary musicians and whose music was always radical, remains largely unknown outside the jazz community.

Despite the fact that there are still a few jazz artists performing whose origins go back to the very beginnings of the genre, Haynes is one of them. At age 20, he landed his first significant gig in 1945 in New York City with Luis Russell’s big band. Louis Armstrong and King Oliver had both worked with Luis Russell in the early 1920s and 1930s, respectively.

Roy Haynes was born in the Roxbury section of Boston in 1925. Haynes grew up in a music-oriented family. His Barbados-born parents both worked for Standard Oil, and his father enjoyed tinkering with cars. On Sundays, he was unable to play secular music in the house because his mother was a deeply religious churchgoer.

Roy Haynes voices himself as the DJ for the fictional classic jazz radio station in the open-world video game Grand Theft Auto IV, lending his voice. Haynes is known to celebrate his birthday on stage at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City, where he is often dressed up. Miles Davis, Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, and Cary Grant were among the best-dressed men in America in 1960, according to Esquire. In 1994, Haynes was chosen as the Danish Jazzpar prize recipient, and in 1996 he was knighted with the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France’s highest literary and artistic honor. Haynes received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music, an honorary Peabody degree from the New England Conservatory, and a Peabody Medal from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in 2012. He was awarded the BNY Mellon Jazz Living Legacy Award at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on October 9, 2010.

Charlie Parker was the inspiration for Haynes’ album Birds of a Feather: A Tribute to Charlie Parker, which was nominated for the 44th Annual Grammy Awards for best jazz instrumental album. Haynes received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards awards ceremony on February 11, 2012, and he was honored with the award at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony & Nominees Reception. The Jazz Foundation of America named him a recipient of their Excellence in Jazz Award in 2019.

In the 1960s, Roy Haynes was one of the first drummers to shift the emphasis away from timekeeping and onto drumming as an equal element in a group. Andrew Hill’s “Smoke Stack” was one of the most significant examples of post-Haynes drumming. Richard Davis and Eddie Khan’s two-bass pattern is relentless and fascinating, as Haynes continuously appears to have limitless energy. From beginning to end, Haynes demonstrates an abundance of creativity and imagination, from the intro to the finish. His performance clearly enthuses and inspires Hill.


There is not one person you can name who has not had some form of contact with African American drummers. African American drumming is a symbolic language and a source of pride for many African Americans. Drums have been used in many African American spiritual and religious ceremonies to bring healing and provide a sense of community through communication and celebration. Drumming also has played a vital role in preserving the rhythm and history of African American culture throughout history. Due to the diversity of musical traditions among African Americans, drumming has been used throughout the African diaspora as a way to communicate, celebrate, and heal. From the spirituals of the African American church to the sounds of the “gentlemen” clubs and blues, African American drummers have been instrumental in creating a positive and driving rhythm for generations of African American people.

African-American drummers have been at the forefront in keeping rhythm alive for people involved in the music industry—musicians and audiences alike. Although African drumming is not a strictly organized endeavor, many people from within the African-American community feel that it is important to learn, preserve, and pass on the African drums tradition.

The impact that African-American drummers have had on their culture is significant and yet often overlooked or misunderstood. The role of drumming in African culture is complex and dynamic, ranging from spiritual and sacred to celebratory and therapeutic. African-American drummers have played a vital role in preserving the rhythm and heritage of their culture throughout history. African drummers have also been influential in creating new rhythms, styles, and musical genres within the music industry, inspiring many others to add their voices to the emerging cultural conversation around African drums.

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Kim is an 80s wild child. She loves to write on all things culture related. Kim enjoys watching TV shows such as The A Team. Kim started her writing career with a Bachelor of Journalism and Communication from Rowan University in New Jersey. Over the years, Kim has written for a variety of publications on world-topics. She’s married and shares 2 kids with her husband. They make their home in Irvine, California, where they enjoy camping trips along the coast.


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