Linda Thomas Jones

Body

"...when I first started drumming especially the African-American males would always say, women in Africa do not drum.  And, once again I said, well, have you ever been to Africa?  And, they say, well, no.  I said, well how do you know women in Africa don't drum?  Well, this other brother told me that women in Africa don't drum.  I said, well until I have gone or you have gone to every village on the continent of Africa you cannot say that women in Africa don't drum.  And, so when I got to New York, um, some of the women had been playing before, it was like a parallel universe.  We were playing we just didn't know about each other.

I'm leaving a footprint and the footprint that I'm leaving is the arts heal and save, that's the main thing, that a person's culture, knowing who they are will save them also.  If a child doesn't really know who they are, they're just like floundering out here.  And, so with this culture being forced on us, a different type of culture including having our language taken away, the way we like to dress, our music, even how we worship was taken away and so you have a lot of confused spirits out here, adults and children.  So, what I do is I give them a way to find out who they are also connect them with their ancestors because without them we would not be here.  Um, give them a real historical… a historical point of slavery, most people do not know where they got their last names from, going back only a few generations, beyond that they don't know.  And, so I actively in a classroom even in a juvenile justice center with all these young males that are in there for years, I actually show them and have them experience what it was like for their parents or parents of a young person that's being sold to a plantation owned my Mr. Thomas.  They actually feel it and I said, well how do you think their father feels knowing that he can’t protect his child from being sold to somebody else and given a different name? And, that anger and that frustration stays… with… within the DNA, it doesn't go away but if they're aware of it they can make better decisions about how to live their lives."

Linda Thomas Jones, known as Mama Fasi in her community, is a world-renowned African drummer. Jones began learning drumming while a dance major at Case Western Reserve University. Afterwards, she travelled to Africa and studied drumming in Ghana and Nigeria, learning from Babatunde Olatunji and Dr. Charles Davis. As a winner of the 2017 Ohio Heritage Fellowship for Performing Arts, Jones teaches both African dance and drumming to her students. She has created community performances and even runs a program called "Girls and Grandmas Drumming Together," which is a youth mentoring program encouraging young women to explore their creative potential in a healthy, nurturing environment. Jones was also one of the first female African drummers to attain international notoriety, which has made her an inspiration for younger performers. 

"To the Beat of Her Own Drum: OAC Heritage Fellowship Recipient Linda Thomas Jones Makes Music Meaningful"

Linda Thomas Jones's Traditions episode.

Contents of the Collection

  • Images of dancers in performance
  • Various clips of Jones teaching drumming to children