In traditional African communities the use of drums was a way to send messages, celebrate special organizations and connect spiritually. The “Drum Circle,” therefore, has served a spiritual function in people’s lives. To keep alive that tradition, the owners of African Accents (5840 W. Chicago Ave.) every third Saturday at 4 p.m., host “drum circle” sessions aimed at recreating the experience of inter-spiritual connection whose roots are embedded in the African culture. As black folks living in America, we often are identified as African Americans, but technically blacks are Africans living in America. Our ancestral roots are in Africa, and if it had not been for slavery and transporting people across the Atlantic Ocean, the term African American would not exist.
The purpose for stating this difference is to point out how elements of your history or ancestry are part of your makeup. Oftentimes we see young boys without any training playing drums or bongos. Playing the drums appears to come naturally to many young men.
The drum circle is surfacing in communities all across the United States. There are drum circle meetings, classes and facilitators who are carrying on the art of drumming. Many in Chicago remember the late Lu Palmer’s notebook messages on the radio. The introduction always began with the sound of the drums and the message, “Just as talking drums of Africa once brought vital information to the African community, Lu Palmer brings vital information to today’s black community.”
Watching the men of the African Accents drum circle is, literally and emotionally, a very moving experience. Each man appeared to be immersed in his individual drumming, yet the music and beat connected as one.
This is how each person described his experience playing the drums:
Malcolm Crawford: “This is an opportunity to get together and communicate without necessarily words, but through music.”
Jovan Crawford: “Sharing in the vibrations, listening and playing, it’s a good feeling.”
Nosakhere O. Bell: “As a writer and producer, I view music as a language of love, and I think the more we put out, the better the world will be.”
Mikal Rasheed: “Drumming is part of the African heritage and culture, and this brings us back to our roots and our ancestors.”
Carl Spight: “We all have a sense of basic connectiveness with the basic rhythm of the universe. Drums are an expression of the basic rhythm of the universe.” Some of the drums Spight plays are Djembe, Doun-Doun, Bougarabaous, Darabouka, Bongos and Timbales.
Crawford said everyone is welcome. You can bring your own drums or purchase one from African Accents. According to Crawford, even if you don’t know how to play a drum you can still do it. It’s something “within you” he states.