Name: Gabriella Dennery
AKA: Grace Drums, percussion and vocal ensemble, along with 4 other amazing women artists
Hometown: Ottawa, Canada and yes, as a kid I played ice hockey and loved it.
How long have you’ve lived in Brooklyn? 16 wonderful years. I love Brooklyn!
Neighborhood: Currently East NY (7 years). I also lived in Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and Bed-Stuy.
Favorite thing about neighborhood: The community gardens. I have three boxes in a garden. I started last year, planting veggies and herbs. What a declaration of independence: growing healthy food in the city, under the brakes of the trains overhead. The best day to plant is Sunday mornings, when I also get treated to live gospel from a neighboring church. Very inspiring and very zen. I also love the incredible vibrancy of the sunflowers when in full bloom. These sunny giants are everywhere in this neighborhood, and when they’re swaying to the rhythm of the wind on cool fall day, it’s the most beautiful sight in the world.
What did you get funded for: I got funding for The Women Gather Project.
Gabriella in her East New York garden.
Tell us a bit about it: To me, individual expression is pivotal to person’s healing and empowerment. Drumming is such a captivating embodiment of personal power. With The Women Gather Project, Grace Drums is bringing drumming to survivors of domestic (DV) and sexual violence (SV) in two ways: Interactive drumming workshops for clients and staff of collaborating DV and SV programs, and Grace Drums’ annual concert, an energy and joy packed celebration of victories over violence. The workshops began in March 2014 and we’re growing our network of collaborators in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Some of the workshops will be open to the public, but not all. The safety and confidentiality of the participants is priority one. Our second annual concert is on Saturday Nov. 1 at LUI Kumble Theater and it is open to the public. Last year we sold out and had to turn people away at the door. This year we have a larger venue. I have no doubt we’ll sell out again. In this day and age a message of dignity, of empowerment, especially for women and girls resonates deeply with many, men women and children, because that’s your sister, your mother, your teacher, your friend, your spouse, your reflection.
What else do you have coming up? Coming up, Grace Drums will have a live CD out before the end of the year, Yeah! We have several concerts coming up including the Spoke The Hub Local Produce Festival in Park Slope at the Old Stone House (5th ave and 4th street) at 5pm, and the Harlem Arts Festival this June 29. The Women Gather Project has drumming workshops scheduled for June and July. I’ll know more about which are open to the public in a few days, and it will be posted on the Grace Drums FB page, as well as our website and twitter.
What’s your jam? Personally I’m working on finishing 2 big compositions and I’m excited because they incorporate what music feels to me, down to my DNA. If the tune connects to every cell of my being, and makes me want to get up and dance, then I know it will touch hearts. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to things like that, so it takes a while to get them done. I’m making great progress though. Can’t wait to hear them live…. before the year is out!
Anything you’re you totally over? Yup. I’m over all the admin hours! It’s worth it. Grace Drums has definitely grown in the last year. I’m still trying to find the right balance though between keeping up with all the admin and my primary reason for being, which is creating life affirming music for stage and recording!
When not making art you are: Cooking, gardening, crafting with fabric, napping.
Gabriella Dennery is a Brooklyn based percussionist who left the practice of primary care medicine to pursue her love of music as a teacher and performer. In 2010, she founded the all women’s percussion and vocal ensemble Grace Drums, adding an eclectic blend of harmonized vocals and contemporary styles to traditional djembe. Recent performances include BAC’s Harbolore Festival, Union Theological Seminary, the Roulette Theater/YWCA gala, and the Queen’s Public Library 28th Annual World Music series. In 2013, she launched The Women Gather Project, bringing African drumming to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Gabriella is a two-time recipient of BAC’s CAF grant, and was recently honored with a citation from the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office for Women’s History Month. Connect with Gabriella and Grace Drums at Facebook.com/gracedrums, tweet at @GraceDrumsMusic. gracedrums.com.