May Drummer of the Month


Cindy Blackman Santana (born November 18, 1959), sometimes known as Cindy Blackman, is an American jazz and rock drummer. Blackman has recorded several jazz albums as solo act and has performed with Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Simmons, Ron Carter, Sam Rivers, Cassandra Wilson, Angela Bofill, Buckethead, Bill Laswell and Joe Henderson. She was influenced early in her career by seeing Tony Williams perform. In 1997 she recorded the instructional video Multiplicity. "To me, jazz is the highest form of music that you can play because of the creative requirements", says Blackman. Blackman is married to rock guitarist Carlos Santana.

Born November 18, 1959 in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Blackman comes from a musical family, both her mother and grandmother were classical musicians and her uncle a vibist. "My mom, when she was younger, played violin in classical orchestras, and her mom, incidentally, was a classical musician. My mom used to take me to see classical concerts", says Blackman. "My dad was into jazz – Miles Davis, Ahmad Jamal, people like that." Blackman's first introduction to the drums happened when she was seven years old in her hometown of Yellow Springs, Ohio and attending a pool party at a friend's house, she went to use the bathroom and saw a drum set and just hopped onto the set. "Just looking at them struck something in my core, and it was completely right from the second I saw them", says Blackman. "And then, when I hit them, it was like, wow, that's me. That's completely natural for me. It's like breathing for me. It didn't feel awkward at all."

After her introduction to drums at her friend's house, Blackman began playing in the school band and persuaded her parents to get her toy drums when she was seven. "Of course those would be broken up in a matter of days", Blackman says. "The only thing I heard at home was, 'we don't know if you can play drums because one, they're noisy, and two, they're very expensive". Some people ask why she didn't study violin or flute like other girls. "I learned very early on – when I was 13 – that when I concentrate on those attitudes, I don't make progress for myself", says Blackman. "If they're not paying my mortgage, I don't care what they think".

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