Tamar Kali.  My girl. I call her T.K. Love her. (www.flamingyoni.com)

T.K. & LaRonda Davis.  DO NOT MESS with these sistas as they will out organize and outclass anyone before you can wake up and say BOO!

When T.K. calls me for a gig, I’m never sorry to hear her voice on the other side of the phone because she does it right.  I pretty much say “when, where, & what time”.    This one was sponsored by the BRC (www.blackrockcoalition.org – founded by Vernon Reid of Living Color currently being run by Pres. LaRonda “LaLa” Davis)

Concert Poster from one of France shows
Concert Poster from one of the France shows

T.K. – “Frae, we’re doing a Nina Simone tribute and I need you on drums.  Shows in France and Nyc.  All female performers and we will be picking up a percussionist there in France”

me & T.K. on plane
air travel. Not cute. cest la vie

Me – “cool.  When where & what time?”

I love Nina Simone, I really do.  She was straight up no joke.  I love how she sang, played piano, led her band, and DEMANDED connection with her audience.  As a drummer, I appreciate the way she manipulated the time in order to express the depth of emotion of a lyric or a phrase, or a chord.  I love how she was playful, sensual, vulnerable, cynical and sometimes tormented.  I love that she was a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, and Jazz, and broadway…. and ALWAYS the BLUES!!!  I am where I am, in part, because of her activism. I consider her to be a role model and inspiration.  How could one not love a woman who as a child, refused to play her piano concert unless her parents were allowed to sit in the front row…seats they were saving for white people only???!   (incidentally, her family was seated in the front row)

T.K. on Paris show poster
T.K. on Paris show poster

4nina23

from behind my kit
from behind my kit @ soundcheck

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We did pick up a percussionist in France who was of Tunisian descent and coincidentally looked like me at first glance because of the curls. Her name is Narjess(www.myspace.com/narjesss) and she was wonderful.  She told me she stayed with Salif Keita @ his compound and recorded for two weeks with a group of percussionists.  I thought that sounded like such a wonderful experience!  She was pretty bad ass.

I shot this video backstage as Narjess was warming up on a table. (that is me with the multicolored ring)

We returned to NYC and did another sold out show at the Schomberg. This time we had the WONDERFUL Hanna Fox on percussion. (I heart Hanna Fox) www.myspace.com/babetheblueoxmusic

Also…the fantabulous filmmaker M. Asli Dukan (www.mizanmedia.com) & Producer Maureen Mahon & crew came along to document the experience moment by moment.  The documentary is forthcoming.

The unstoppable M. Asli Dukan
The unstoppable M. Asli Dukan

CLICK HERE to see Songs for Nina teaser

Apparently there are more shows in France scheduled for the fall.

I’m so psyched.

These are some of the kind of experiances I was hoping for when I packed one bag, my drumset and came to NYC on Amtrak with $600 10 years ago:)