“Hi I’m John I was introduced to drumming just over 12 years ago. I saw a show called Drum Struck where all the audience had a drum to play, I’d never experienced that before to be part of something bigger than just my sound and also feeling different rhythms layering to give the voice of our piece. I instantly enrolled in classes in the Blue Mountains and found my calling playing drums with our local group Hands Heart and Feet to me I loved it especially playing Dunn dunns for dance classes as the energy built from the vibrations of our drums to feed the dancers and there cycle of energy feeding us it felt like the story unfolded for each of their steps had calls from lead djembes and Dunn lines to match their moves – I wanted more!
I’d never been on a plane before but I when heard of Simon and Tuza’s trip to Ghana west Africa, I went on a whim and a prayer. Nothing prepared me for my experience to see the cultural change and poverty and yet the most happiest people I’d ever been with always having at least 10 children around me laughing and playing I felt the rhythms from there origin. The tour was well organised with professional tutors classes and one on ones I not only tried drum classes but I did singing, flute and even tried a few dance classes.
My biggest joy was to watch the up and coming children dance and train there joy dedication came from the heart each step in dance or slap tone on drum had a message they taught me to let go and just feel it. Their legacy was for me to learn these rhythms and voices take it home, they didn’t want anything in return just share it with my community back home.
Drumming for me has become about bringing joy and sharing the gift of music. I teach a regular class at Blackheath every Monday night going for over 3 years now also I work with disabled people and do work shops and performances to my teachers Mohamed Bangoura Sibo and Epizo bangoura, Simon Fraser, Tuza and John May from Hands Heart and Feet also the beautiful teachers in Africa thank you for changing my life love John bortey”