Concert of Colors Artist Spotlight: The Sun Drummers

Kristy Stanford CBS62/CW50 Intern

Did you enjoy music that makes your hips swing? Meet Ayinde Ananda, Marwan Amen-Ra, Chi Amen-Ra, Maulana Tolbert, and Imani Jamal from the group ‘The Sun Drummers.’ Read more on how they want to bring people together through music.

Tell me about the music you play.

We play traditional West African djembe music and other genres from the African diaspora. Traditional music of the djembe orchestra originates from countries in Africa like Mali, Senegal and Guinea. Music from the Africa diaspora, where us Africans live and have been dispersed over centuries, includes music from the Caribbean, Congo, Haiti, Cuba and South Africa as well. -Imani

What is it like performing at the Concert of Colors? 

Having performed at the Concert of Colors for several years and with several different groups, I have come to appreciate the vast diversity inherent in this festival.I have performed West African music with my family, Puerto Rican music with BombaRica, and have been honored to play with the phenomenal lyricist Michael Ellison (Mike E) for several years running. In addition in 2015 I had a great experience playing the traditional djembe instrument to accompany DJ Fabian Alsultany.All of these shows drew a different type of audience, yet the energy was synonymous in that people came together in harmony in the name of good music. And all of this can be found under the one umbrella of the Concert of Colors. Amazing and Detroit music at its finest! –Chi

Who are your musical influences in Detroit?

There are so many but definitely artist such as: Olu  Hot Sauce Dwele Collective Peace Monica Blaire  Black Bottom Collective Mollywop!  -Maulana

Who has been your biggest supporter(s) over the years?

The dance community has always been super supportive. They never turn me away, if I want to drum someplace where there’s dancing, and that’s helped me to grow, musically, seeing the impact of my musical energy on others regularly. My parents of course let me make a lot of noise in the house growing up, and allowed me to drum with the family dance company Ngoma Za Amen-Ra, from an early age, so there’s always been endless support. Even when I practice in the streets, the people of Detroit city gather around, dance, tip me, and turn it into a party – always. There’s always been support. -Marwan

 What inspires your creativity? 

In a nutshell, the human experience and life itself is my creative nucleus. The happiness, the joy, the pain, the sorrow, the failures, and the possibilities of greatness inherent in every person who has been blessed with life. -Chi

 What type of message do you want your music to send?

A healing reminder of the common thread (the humanity) that connects us is important to send. Our similarities are more important than our differences. This music transcends people’s differences, and bridges the roads where many of us veer off to our own differing neighborhoods, cultures, opinions, “classes”, orientations, beliefs, affiliations, etc. This music (if used as it was intended and named) brings us back together. It has its own built in message and reminder that takes the most diverse audiences’ minds from today’s “programming” that divides people over trifles back to the more important things. It sounds good as well. -Marwan

 How has music changed your life?

I wouldn’t say it changed my life because there was never a point in my life when I was without music. My mother is a singer, my father is a dancer , my uncle and aunts are singers, I was always around music. With that being said I see music as a tool to hear GOD’s voice in another way. -Maulana

5 years from now, where do you see yourself musically?

In 5 years, I see myself being an ambassador for our music and our culture. Playing with my brothers, The Sun Drummers, at the highest level possible. Us , as a group, being a shining example of African culture, the African –American musical experience here in the U.S. and representatives of  music from the African diaspora.

What advice would you give to beginner artists? 

When you know in your spirit, in your core as a human being that you have been blessed with a gift; when you know that your voice as a human being and an artist is important, believe it and never waiver from that belief.

Make yourself a personal promise that despite the challenges you will assuredly face, you will never give up on yourself. There is obviously the reality of survival and until you can sustain yourself off of your art alone you have to do what you have to do for food, shelter, clothing, etc. But never lose sight of who you really are and the contribution that your voice will make to humanity.

Strive to be the best artist you can be for yourself and not for anyone else because regardless of how long your journey takes, you are truly the only person who can make or break your opportunity to inject a dose of positivity into this world.-Chi

When did you start playing music and why?

I started playing music at the age of six. I saw African drumming on my first day of kindergarten. I came home after school and started banging on everything I could! I was hooked. As I got older, I would go to the rehearsals of our school’s African drum and dance company. I wasn’t even in in the group but I went to every rehearsal. I was terrible! They even told me to stop drumming! But I kept at it, I practiced and I got better. Years later, I was finally a member of the school drum and dance company at the age of 13. In high school, I met my fellow Sun Drummers and I’ve have been playing together with them, in the community, ever since.

Check out The Sun Drummers performing at the Concert of Colors Saturday, July 16, at 1:30 p.m.  on the Wolverine Outdoor Stage Sosnick Court, behind the Orchestra Place building.  For more information, visit http://Concert of Colors

Kristy Stanford is a Media Personality and Motivational Speaker. She is a recent graduate of Eastern Michigan University, where she studied in Electronic Media Film Studies and Comprehensive Communication. She enjoys doing interviews with different brands and businesses for her website KristyLoveMedia.com. Kristy also is an inspirational blogger and does photography and event hosting on the side.

 

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