The yearlong drumming competition between drummers from all over East Africa came to a close on Sunday the 13th at Alliance Francaise Gardens, Nairobi. Drumjam Showdown began at 2.30 p.m. with BeCa the band as the opening act followed by Motra Percussionists and many others.
After the large audience composed of great instrumentalists in the country like Amani Baya who plays for the boy band Sauti Sol and fans of the finalists; Emma from Tanzania, Muraya from Kenya and Amani SD from Rwanda settled down, the competition began.
In the judging panel sat Tetu Shani, a renowned Percussionist, Michelle, a diverse instrumentalist and the great Aaron Rimbui. The drummers performed their different sets with their selected bands then moved on to their drum solos.
After this the drummers took part in a brief drum off where each gave the other a challenge of their choice. During this period the audience was allowed to vote for their favorite drummer.
Soon it was time for the judges to give their verdict following the tallying of the votes.
Michelle advised the drummers not to focus too much on chops but on interpretation, Amani Baya told them to be true to their African roots even as they play as this would let them stand out as drummers. He also asked them to learn a few from people who drum even in the villages who are full of authenticity.
Amani SD was announced the winner and he didn’t shy away from expressing his joy. The drummer, who also plays for Fena Gitu, stood out as he sang Bruno Mars’ ‘Treasure’ as he drummed. He later drove the crowd wild with his unique Rwandese set. These probably earned major points for the drummer.
Will Drumjam Host another competition in 2016? Can’t wait to find out!
Pictures courtesy of Quaint Photography.