Drumming up a storm with the Coral Beats

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  • Magnificent women: the Coral Beats, Bermuda’s all-woman percussion band, after a recent stage performance at Warwick Academy (Photograph supplied)

    Magnificent women: the Coral Beats, Bermuda’s all-woman percussion band, after a recent stage performance at Warwick Academy (Photograph supplied)


Have you ever experienced love at first sight where suddenly, like a thunderbolt, it strikes you?

The whole world disappears for a moment. Your heart freezes and then begins to knock fast and loud. Your inner voice tells you “this is yours” and you never question it. This love is fiery, passionate and bright as fire.

You realise that this is supposed to happen and it didn’t happen by chance. You know that there is no road back, that from this particular moment you start a new and life-changing journey.

That is exactly what happened to me when I first saw a performance by the incredible The Coral Beats, an all-woman Bermuda percussion group.

I walked into the dark hall and stopped cold. I was struck head-on by the crazy, loud and vigorous rhythm of the drums.

Then in the spotlights, I saw 20 diverse women with colourful drums of all sizes led by an ecstatic young conductor.

They were all dressed in pure white and beating so passionately and selflessly, they created a dynamic energy that I felt throughout my entire body.

I stared at them with wide eyes, engulfed in the vibration of their powerful rhythm.

I noticed I was smiling and, involuntarily, I began to dance.

“Who are they, these magnificent women?” I thought.

I already knew that I should be up there with them beating my own drum, that it was my fate. After the performance, I introduced myself to Sue Riihiluoma, the creator of this unique band.

The Coral Beats is her dream. I asked her with tremulous hope, but very little expectation, if I could join them. She answered with a smile: “Yes, you can come and try to drum.”

Seven months later, I was proudly standing on a stage at Warwick Academy with a big drum strapped around my waist surrounded by 30 other members of the band; strong women of different ages and backgrounds who were all passionate about drumming.

I now know that this wide diversity enhances and strengthens our unity.

We find friendships, support and camaraderie among people we might otherwise never have met. We share a happiness based on an energy that is essentially female, and we come together to create and send that power out into the world.

Female energy united in rhythm! It empowers and unites us, and it creates a deep exhilaration in our audience. As I looked out at the crowded hall of clapping and whistling people, I still couldn’t believe it was me.

Our show last Sunday was the culmination of a five-day instructional clinic with Brazilian performance artist, Mestre Bolo.

We had been through an inspiring process of hard work; endless drumming, singing, clapping and repeating rhythms for hours on end. We were excited to finally put it all together and share our passion with our families and friends.

After long days of practice, we were eager to perform samba reggae beats from different regions of Brazil.

It became more of a performance than a drum concert. There was heartfelt singing, profound poetry, passionate dancing and creative painting — all to our strong accompaniment. Individual artists from our band were supported and propelled by the force of our drums.

“We sent a positive and motivational message to the world: we are women, talented and strong! We are all special and beautiful! Hear us! Feel our power!

My drum journey is just beginning and I don’t know yet where it will lead me. One thing I have learnt already: despite our differences we are much stronger and happier when we act together. By creating something with each other we dissolve boundaries, we forge friendships and we find our power.

If I can learn how to drum, you can do something special too, something that will make you happy. Find an activity that gets you involved with other people. Don’t be afraid, just do it!

Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at ninalondon.com

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Published Jun 28, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 28, 2018 at 7:10 am)

Drumming up a storm with the Coral Beats

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