She is one of the very few female gospel music drummers in Barbados. And even though Tammy Evelyn only plays regularly at her Wavely Cot New Testament Church Of God assembly, she gets the opportunity to perform outside of that setting at various other events from time to time.
Tammy’s last major drumming stint outside of her church was at the Honour Thy Mother concert held before a sell-out audience at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on May 1.
“I started drumming from about the age of 11. The worship leader at our church, he asked everybody if they wanted to learn to play the drums; and it was me and some fellows,” said a reflective Tammy.
This young Christian instrumentalist remembered that at the end of the first two weeks of training, she was the only person left.
“And then I went on to the Ellerslie Secondary School, where Mr Hall is the music teacher there . . . . There was a guy that came in; his name is Tito Ellis from the Royal Barbados Police Force Band –– he came in and he taught us how to play the drums. So I have been playing for a good while now,” Tammy told High Note while brandishing a broad infectious smile.
While she did not commit herself to describing playing the drums among predominantly male musicians, Tammy admitted they sometimes questioned her ability.
“I would not say it is a challenge, but you find men tend to be like, ‘You could play? You know wuh you doing?’ They tend to kind uh give you an eye, like, ‘You sure you know wuh you doing?’
“But when they hear you, they like, ‘Oh, yeh, she knows what she is doing . . . . She good, she good. I’m not worried about her’,” the young drummer declared.
“So far, I have played with some Jamaicans already. The excitment was there and everything; so this would be my second time playing with a band,” referring to the backing band at the Honour Thy Mother concert.
Expressing a love and passion for music and drumming in particular, Tammy told High Note if the opportunity arose to perform full-time, she would.
“I love music. I love the drums; I love the drums. I don’t say, ‘Well, I like this type of music’. But reggae is one of my favourites. I really enjoy reggae. Sometimes when you listen to men like Bob Marley, different artistes, Richie Spice and those, the drummer in there! And I love a bass guitar. So, I’m like, ‘Yeh, these men got it’, yuh know,” Tammy blurted out as she waved her fists in the air.
Showing evidence of humility, this emerging female drummer conceded that during the May 1 concert that headlined international gospel vocalist Lynda Randle, there were somethings [musically] she was not sure about, but learned as she went along.
“You always learn something new. So this was like a big experience for me. You pick up some things you didn’t know, yuh know. I think that if I don’t know how to play something, or if there is something I’m not too sure about, how it is supposed to be played, then I’m willing to learn.
“Yuh got to be willing to learn, because music is a learning process,” she emphasized. While Tammy could not identify specific drummers by name who had inspired her, she recalled Ellis suggesting she go home and watch YouTube. She remembered watching a YouTube video of three drummers performing solo pieces.
“One had the toms, the next one had the cymbals and then the next one just had the snares . . . . That was my favourite video,” she said beaming as she went through the motions of beating the drums.
And the Barbados Gospelfest 2016 edition literally bowls off on Saturday, May 21, with a combined 20/20 cricket match at the Briar Hall Playing Field, Christ Church, beginning at 7 p.m. Then the following day, hundreds are expected to gather at the People’s Cathedral at Bishop’s Court Hill for the Worship And Thanksgiving Service from 10:15 a.m.
The festival continues on Tuesday, May 24, with the now popular ICBL Hymnspeak that takes place at St Mary’s Anglican Church at 7 p.m., followed the next day by the free Barbados Public Workers’ Cooperative Credit Union Sunset Concert in Independence Square from 5:30 p.m.
All roads lead to the Queen’s Park Steel Shed for the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI)-sponsored Joseph Niles Legacy Lecture which commences at 7:30 p.m., and that’s free.
It’s the Capita Financial Laughter & Jazz which will once again be staged at Divi Southwinds, St Lawrence, Christ Church, on Friday, May 27, from 8 p.m. And, the following morning at 8:30, it will be time for the Signia Financial Development Workshop And Artistes Showcase also at Divi Southwinds.
Then among the really big shows is the Courts Ultimate Gospel –– in association with Life 97.5 FM and SOL –– at Kensington Oval on Saturday, May 28, starting at 7 p.m.; and then there is the Chefette Gospel Kids’ Experience on May 29 at Farley Hill National Park from 1 p.m. all part of the Flow One Awesome Day musical package, bringing an end to this year’s Barbados Gospelfest under the theme Touching Lives, Changing Nations.
Among the local artistes performing are FLAME Awards Gospel Artist of the Year Neesha Woodz and FLAME Awards Original Song Of The Year winner Gozzy.