- Faith & Family
The story of Black college’s talented drum lines have gotten a lot more attention since the popular film “Drumline” was released to rave reviews in 2002. But they they have long been a fixture at football games for our historically-Black colleges and universities. And following that great tradition, a group of young drummers from the Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Complex in Miami Gardens, recently showed that they have the right stuff. The youth took to the stage at Jazz in Gardens two weeks ago, dressed in colorful costumes of red and black with shimmering sequins and delighted the crowd, receiving a standing ovation after their performance. It was their first performance at the annual Jazz event.
Jo Ann Harris is the founder and musical director of the Alliance for Musical Arts, housed in the Ferguson complex. Drum classes are held twice a week year-round for children ages 6 to 16. The focus of the program, funded by the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council and the Miami-Dade Office of Grants Coordination, is to bring the musical arts to all interested children — the emphasis being on youth from low to extremely-low income households. Ninety-percent of the youth are able to participate because of the scholarship. The children live in both Miami Gardens and Opa-locka and face life in a high crime areas and have limited support systems.
Several of the drummers got the added treat of appearing as guest backup dancers for hip hop icon Doug E. Fresh, who was a featured entertainer at Jazz in the Gardens.
“These are the types of venues we want our children to experience as they grow as true musicians,” said Harris. “The children must master basic sight reading and drum rudiments before they can strap on a drum.”
Reflecting on the children dancing with Doug E. Fresh, parent chaperone Sindy Eugene said, “This was an unexpected surprise.”
You can find out more about this youth project by going to www.power2give.org “Sticks Up – Power of Drums.”
By D. Kevin McNeir