Call her what you want. The drummer lady. The drumming grandma. But Dorothea Taylor is NOTHING like you expect her and wears the title of “Godmother of Drums” to the tee.
You might have seen the video on social media “Godmother of drums playing ‘Down with the sickness'”. If haven’t please watch it first because you want to know one of the coolest ladies in the world.
The minute I saw this video a few months ago I couldn’t stop watching it. Made by Drumeo for their Women Crush Wednesday series they were hoping for maybe a million views. It’s currently standing over 57 million views on Facebook alone. I’ve seen a few good drummers in the 10 years of Small Town Music and can count on 1 hand, the number of female drummers. But being me, I emailed Dorothea to find out more. Timezone wise it was impossible to get us both for a Skype interview. I sent her a few questions;
STM: Tell us about yourself please. Where were you born, grow up
DT: I was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA
STM: When was the first time you sat behind a drum set to play?
DT: I started playing the drums in a Drum Corps at 13 years old and got my first drum set at 16 years old.
STM: Did you have lessons as a child?
DT: No, marching in local drum corps was my only instructions.
STM: In your 20’s, playing the drums as a woman was truly unheard of, did you manage to play drums then professionally?
DT: I got my first band when I was 17 years old.
STM: How long have you been playing drums in bands?
DT: I have been playing in various bands for 56 years.
STM: I have seen on social media you have quite a collection of different drumming instruments. Just how many do you have?
DT: Four drum sets; congas; cajons; udus; bongos; guitar; uke; piano; organ; dulcimer
STM: What does your family think of your drumming? Were your kids rolling their eyes as teenagers when their mom got behind a drum kit?
DT: They were proud of their mother. They thought nothing different from me. That is all they knew.
STM: Growing up did you look up to any drummers?
DT: Buddy Rich
STM: Your video of covering “Down with the Sickness” of Disturbed has over 57 million views (and counting) on Facebook and on YouTube over 10 million views. Did you ever imagine that video will be viewed so many times? What are thoughts on that?
DT: When it was made at Drumeo, we did it for shock value and hoped it would reach at least a million. We are very surprised at how it has done.
STM: Why did you pick the song ‘Down with the sickness’? Because lets face it not many old schoolers will appreciate the type of genre or song.
DT: They wanted me to do something that would surprise the viewers and asked me if I would do something that was heavy.
STM: Do you know if Disturbed have seen your cover video yet?
STM: What got to me in the video is you mention that we shouldn’t judge any one by their looks or well what they play. Why is this so important to you?
DT: Being a woman you are not expected to be a good drummer. I believe in giving a person a chance to prove themselves before judging
STM: What do you have to say to people that judge you when you walk into a place and sit behind the drum set?
DT: I just start playing and then watch their reactions. They get out their phones to video. So I always know that I have surprised them.
STM: What is it like being a female drummer?
DT: People have come up to me many times asking what made you play the drums especially in the early 70’s and 80’s time frame.
STM: The first ever female drummer I saw was Cindy Blackman, who drums for Lenny Kravitz and Santanna. What is your take on female drummers in the music industry? Do you feel there should be more?
DT: No different than a male drummer. If you are a female you should be given the same opportunity as a male.
DT: Vinnie Colaiuta’s’s style is amazing.
DT: Listening to those links, I would say that you have some great drummers as well.
STM: Do you think there is a future still for real drummers and not those making noise through a machine?
DT: Yes. Keeping up with the latest on Instagram, I continue seeing amazing new drummers.
STM: I personally have a lot of respect for drummers because it looks so difficult. Your feet are doing one thing and your arms are doing another thing. Is it difficult to teach a newbie to drum?
DT: Yes, it’s definitely a challenge.
STM: Can anyone take lessons from you, no matter where in the world?
DT: Yes they can by sending me an Instagram message.
STM: Do you have any last thoughts that you would like to share to South African drummers and people?
DT: Keep doing what you love to do and always strive to do your best.
Follow her on Instagram for all things drumming and contact her for some lessons or some more videos on YouTube