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Women in Percussion Festival

Women in Percussion Festival

Oct 11 to 15, 2017 at Lula Lounge

Lula Music and Arts Centre celebrates women in world and Latin percussion with five days of concerts, workshops and drumming-focused conversations featuring leading local artists and international guests. While highlighting the work of top calibre and boundary-breaking percussionists with roots in Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba, India, Brazil, Guinea, and the Anishinaabe Nation, Women in Percussion will explore the challenges faced by women drummers as well as the the role of drumming in various cultural and spiritual traditions.

Inspired by the women musicians who pursue their artistic vision in the male-dominated world of drumming, contributing programmers Olga Dominguez and Mabinty Sylla have guided the curation of the festival which has been made possible by Ontario150, The Government of Ontario, Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council and Canadian Heritage. Tamar Dina, director of Music Liberatory will introduce and the concerts and workshops.

6pm doors, 7pm show

$15 advance / $20 at the door

Presented in association with NAC presents across Canada with Introduction by Tamar Dina of Music Liberatory

6pm doors, 7pm show

$15 advance / $20 at the door

Free before 8pm/$15 at the door

Shandra Spears Bombay

Ceremony, Spirit and Gender: Anishinaabe Nation Percussion

Talk and intimate performance. 11am FREE. Reserve at

Mabinty Sylla Workshop

West African Drumming and Dance Workshop (Bring a drum or use our buckets.) This workshop will be delivered in French but you can follow it even if you don’t speak French!

1pm FREE Reserve at

Madelin Espinosa Workshop

Basics of Cuban percussion

3pm FREE Reserve at

Sarah Thawer

Drumming Workshop

1pm FREE Reserve at

Aline Morales

Aline Morales Brazilian Percussion workshop and closing party

2:30 FREE Reserve at


(in alphabetical order)

Aline Morales

Since her arrival in Canada in 2003, Brazilian-born Morales has had an enormous impact on the Toronto Brazilian music scene. Largely responsible for the introduction of Maracatu rhythms to Toronto drumming, Aline has built a strong reputation a dynamic singer, percussionist and bandleader. Her 2011 debut solo album, Flores, Tambores e Amores was met with widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for the Juno World Music Album of the Year, reaching first place on Canada’s folk and world charts and landing on several best of 2011 lists. A member of the New Canadian Global Music Orchestra, Aline also leads the popular Maracatu group Baque de Bamba which has recently been undertaking an exciting experimental musical journey, the band Forrónite, and a group under her own name.


Baobá is a Latin percussive trio formed in 2015 by some of Toronto’s top female percussionists - taking traditional beats to the next level. Empowered by the natural musicality that flows from South American bodies. Anita Graciano, Y Josephine, Mari Palhares representing Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil respectively, demonstrate and ideal balance of voice, melody and instrumentation. The group performs mostly original songs, as well as old school Latin cover hits of Cumbia, Salsa, Funk, AfroBrazilian/Colombian/Venezuelan and many other Latin inspired rhythms.

Brenda Navarrete

Brenda Navarrete has collaborated with Cuba’s music elite and has toured in Canada and the US. From the beginning, Brenda set her sights on percussion and a career in music. A graduate of Cuba’s prestigious Amadeo Roldán Music Conservatory, she earned accreditations as an instrumentalist and ensemble and percussion instructor. Brenda is making her mark as an accomplished singer, percussionist, composer and arranger. Her new recording on Alma Records will be released later this year.

Jabu Morales

Barcelona-based Brazilian singer and percussionist Jabu Morales has released several CDs: Jabu (2010) and Malungo (2015). As well her song was chosen to be part of the Universo Brasilis CD release in 2016. A member of the all-female ensemble Tambor de Saia, Jabu leads the group Mandacaru Maracatu, a project that takes inspiration from African influences to create original arrangements and compositions based on traditional rhythms. Jabu is also involved with the Maracatu Barcelona, an organization dedicated to the study, diffusion and promotion of the Maracatu tradition and the weekly forró project Madam Baião in at Barcelona’s Diobar.

Mabinty Sylla

Born in Conakry, Guinea, Mabinty Sylla is a professional dancer, choreographer and teacher of West African dance, especially that of Guinea. Before leaving for Canada, Mabinty was a member of Ballet Tayeli, led by the great Guinean percussionist Mamadouba Camara, the first great soloist of Ballet Joliba. Mabinty is a regular instructor for Lula Music and Arts Centre’s Educational programs for middle and high school students of French.

Madelin Espinosa

Born in Havana, Cuban percussionist Madelin Espinosa studied at Félix Varela conservatory in Cuba before becoming a member of several Cuban women groups including Yanela & Las Chicas del Sabor, Las Chicas del Loco and Azúcar. A resident of Spain since 2000, Madelin has worked closely with singers Manu Tenorio, Sergio Dalma and Maria Salgado. She has been invited as an instructor to the prestigious "PercuFest" for multiple years and has performed at top festivals through out Europe including the Zomer van Antwerpen Festival in Belgium where she performed with the female group "Zulemax" on whose CD she appears. She has contributed to the contemporary trova movement through her work with Lynn Milané, Raúl Torres, Vanito Brown & Havana Abierta, She has also also collaborated on several projects with her highly-accomplished percussionist brother Pepe Espinosa. Currently, Madeline teaches in Madrid and is a member of the female orchestra Chicas de la Habana.


OKAN represents the next evolution of Cuban music outside of Cuba, providing a modern perspective on the rich roots of Cuban music. Taking its name from the word for soul in the Afro Cuban religion Santeria, OKAN features Havana-born vocalist and violinist Elizabeth Rodriguez and Santiago de Cuba native Magdelys Savigne on percussion. Both artists have recorded and toured extensively with groups such as the Juno-winning band of Jane Bunnett & Maqueque and The Battle of Santiago.


Having released their third album “Small Pieces” earlier this year, Rakkatak merges classical Indian rhythms and melodies with a pop music aesthetic. Rakkatak's multi-faceted creativity and eclectic musicianship combust on stage to create a unique, coloured and intoxicating vibe. Rakkatak is tabla player Anita Katakkar and bassist Oriana Barbato. The performance will also feature guest artist Sina Momtahan. With Indian/Scottish roots in multicultural Toronto, Anita Katakkar‘s music represents a link between her heritage and community. In Toronto, she studied tabla with composer and musician Ritesh Das and in California and Kolkata with the pre-eminent exponent of the Lucknow style tabla, Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri. Anita has performed, recorded and toured internationally with the Toronto Tabla Ensemble and Jeff Martin and toured nationally with The Tea Party.

Sarah Thawer

Fusing Latin, Indian, world jazz and funk influences Sarah Thawer presents her dynamic project at Lula for the first time. As a student of jazz and world music at York University Sarah was the recipient of the prestigious Oscar Peterson Scholarship. She is currently freelancing, collaborating, doing session work and performing with international artists playing jazz, Latin, gospel, hip hop, funk, r&b/soul, flamenco, fusion, Indian and world music.Drummer for the internationally renowned Cuban fusion rock group Battle of Santiago, Sarah has also worked with artists such as AR Rahman, Del Hartley, D’bi and the 333, Re.verse, Salim-Sulaiman, Benny Dayal and Funktuation, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, Mitch Frohman, Thompson Egbo-Egbo, Maria Mulata, Grisha Goryachev, Steve Koven and Vijay Prakash, to name a few.

Shandra Spears Bombay

Shandra Spears Bombay

An actor, singer, writer and photographer. Shandra Spears Bombay has been singing with a hand-drum since 1993, currently singing with the powerful and inventive group Hidden River Singers. Shandra has connected with communities from coast to coast to coast,and has shared singing workshops with generations of Indigenous women and girls who will no longer live in silence. Shandra is Anishinaabe from Rainy River First Nations/Manitou Rapids. Raised in Chatham, Ontario, she now makes her home in the greater Toronto area. (Photo credit Barb Nahwegahbow)

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