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Drumming ‘slows me down and centers my spirit’

Hughes (right) with other members of Sapphire’s Good Vibe Tribe

By Rev. Michelle Hughes

Illinois Conference, United Church of Christ clergy
I started drumming last summer. I have always loved percussion instruments and thought it would be a fun thing to learn. I called a couple of my friends and asked if they would join me in this endeavor. We began on Fridays in my backyard, so we could social distance. After the first lesson, we were all so excited about how the rhythms spoke to us and how we felt the vibrations through our bodies. It was exciting and it was community building.
Even as we were just beginners, we decided that we wanted to form a group under the leadership of our instructor, Terry Morrow. Our first step was to come up with our individual drumming names, and then a name for our group. My drumming name is Binta which means “with God.” We named our group Saphires’s Good Vibe Tribe.
Three of the women in the group are clergy, one a church musician.  I couldn’t wait to purchase my own drum. Now I have four drums: a djembe, a buffalo drum, a 9 tongue steel drum, and for Christmas a set of bongos (and a tambourine).
Drumming is a way for me to connect with the world community. Through drumming, I connect to my African Ancestry, my native ancestry, Latin rhythms, and meditative melodies. I now understand why it is used in so many ritual practices. Drumming is very much a spiritual practice for me. It slows me down and centers my spirit, and has given me a wonderful community of women who are journeying with me.

A joint project of Advocate Health Care & the OCEAN-HP at the University of Illinois at Chicago.