Since January, resident artist Derique McGee has been traveling all around Oakland teaching our students hambone body percussion and its roots in early America as it evolved from enslaved Africans. Hambone emerged from a rhythmic dance called Pattin’ Juba and was used to embrace its cultural connection for survival. Drumming was a method of communication that could be used to plan meetings or organize escape. After slave owners realized that the Africans’ rhythms were more than just music, they took away their drums. Thus, hambone body percussion was born out of necessity, courage, and the strength to “create something from nothing.” By practicing these rhythms and keeping the story alive, our students are honoring the past–for many, their direct ancestors–and celebrating the spirit of resistance, perseverance, and beautiful self-expression.
THIS SATURDAY, students from five of our program sites will come together to perform a collective hambone body percussion act that truly represents the phrase “around the world and back again.” As “Coach Derique” has circled Oakland spreading the skills and stories of Hambone, our children are coming together to share it with the public as a unified group for the 2015 Showcase.