Ivory is singer-songwriter/drummer from Chicago. She started out drumming in churches at the age of 15. After graduating from college, she started writing music for artists and bands in reggae/ska and reggae/soul. Several of her songs have been featured on websites Stereofox, Found, Obscure Sound, The Burning Ear, LA On Lock, and We Love That Sound.

Women are underrepresented in the percussion world. Our weekly series, Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW), aims to recognize, celebrate, and inspire female percussionists of all stripes. Each Wednesday we’ll feature a profile of a drummer, who will share tips, advice, and videos. Want to be featured yourself? Send an email to anna.pulley@stringletter.com telling us more about you.

What is your city, country, and age?

Chicago, Illinois, 23.

What kind of gear do you use? What’s your setup?

I use a Remo practice pad. I also have a full Ludwig drum set.

What led you to your instrument? What’s your origin story?

I was in the sixth grade when I decided to pick up a drumstick. I looked at the way Shelia E. played drums and I wanted to do it because of her.

Who is your favorite drummer and why?

Shelia E. First thing is because she is a woman. There are not a lot of female drummers that are known. I thought to myself, Man, she is a pretty woman who knows how to play drums. Awesome! My mother had the album The Glamorous Life, which was a big inspiration.

How do you practice? Do you have a routine?

I practice every day. I do not have a routine though. I look at videos of drummers on YouTube, usually on Drumeo, and read different music for drumming.

Are there any specific playing tips or techniques, or advice, exercises, or discoveries you’d like to share with Drum readers?

Picking the right drumsticks to play is so important. Please make sure you try a bunch of them in order to pick the right ones. A lot of people do not understand that if you have small hands, you should try to hold small sticks at first. If you are in a marching band then you can’t do that, but you could practice with smaller sticks, then go bigger with marching sticks in performances.

What’s something you believe about drumming or music that other people think is crazy?

Good question. Don’t underestimate the power of tapping. I would tap on the table. I used to do it high school and people would be like, “Really, Ivory?” I just love to tap and make a beat on the table.

As artists, the goal post for “success” is always moving. There’s not one “I made it!” point. How do you think about and define success?

I think about it all the time, but I have tried to focus on music and drumming before all that. You have to put yourself out there to let others see you and to get those opportunities to show your talent.


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Do you have any quotes or sayings that you live by?

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” —Bob Marley

How important is failure in making music/performing?

Very important, because without it, you’d never learn. You have to fail in order to succeed.

Any advice for girls contemplating getting started and making it in this arena?

Please make sure you stay in school band!

If you had to put together a school or resources for would-be drummers, what would the training include?

How to hold your sticks. I have been playing 12 years and still have a hard time because of my small hands. I would love to stick out that pinky hand and that isn’t the correct way. If I was performing I wouldn’t do it.

Where else to find Ivory