Djembe drumming

Gregg Powell is the director of the Djembe drumming ensemble.

In recognition of African-American History Month in February, Fort Bend County Libraries’ George Memorial Library will present a special musical performance of “African Hand-Drumming” on Saturday, February 15, from 1:00 to 2:00 pm, in the Meeting Room of the library, located at 1001 Golfview in Richmond.

Enjoy the traditional tribal rhythms and spiritual gifts of West African djembe drumming in a special performance by Gregg “Jebada” Powell, founder and director of the Joy of Djembe Drumming Ensemble.

Powell will talk about the history of the instrument and the culture of the people who originally produced it. He will perform a variety of rhythms to demonstrate the influences of different countries and traditions.

Thought to have been created by the Mandé people during the Malian Empire approximately 400 to 800 years ago, the djembe drum is a rope-tuned skin-covered drum played with bare hands. The goblet-shaped body of the djembe drum is carved of a single piece of African hardwood and its drumhead is made of untreated rawhide, most commonly made from goatskin.

Powell began playing hand drums in 1964 in the Spanish Harlem neighborhood of Upper Manhattan in New York City, where he grew up. He learned to play the congas, bata drums, timbales, and the African djembe, and his primary focus has been on Latin, Afro-Cuban, and West African rhythms.

The Joy of Djembe Drumming Ensemble is a group of Houston musicians who share the joy of music, particularly that of West African djembe drumming.

Made possible by the generous support of the Friends of George Memorial Library, the performance is free and open to the public. For more information, see the Fort Bend County Libraries website (, or call George Memorial Library (281-342-4455) or the library system’s Communications Office (281-633-4734).

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