Howard beats down stereotypes

Obsever writer

Friday, December 28, 2018

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Being a female drummer in a male-dominated music industry is far from easy, but 26-year-old Kaley Howard is beating down those stereotypes.

If you were a patron at Ghetto Splash on December 18, you would have experienced the invigorating performance by Howard, Cham's drummer. She is one of three members in his all-female band.

Vibrations raced through the crowd as she effortlessly hit the snare and stomped the kick drum. Her energy was infectious as she prepared the audience for Cham's electrifying performance.

By the end the deejay's set, she was drenched in sweat, but the 'bigups' from MC Burger Man and the cheers she received from the audience was signatory of a job well done.

“Ghetto Splash was a fun experience. I had not been to Kingston before, but the love I received there was second to none,” Howard told Jamaica Observer's weekly Splash.

Though the response from the audience that night was good, Howard has faced her share of discrimination, being a female drummer.

“ It hasn't always been good,” she said. “ Before I would even play they'd say, 'get that girl off the drums' or 'wow I know you play like a girl' until I actually start playing then they normally just have a blank stare,” she said.

Howard puts in twice the work to escape the notion that women are less equipped to play drums.

“I practise and work hard, so it doesn't sound like a 'girl' playing,” she said. “I want to sound like a drummer!”

Originally from Ohio in the US Midwest, the multi-instrumentalist grew up in a musical home. Her mother and grandmother play the drums; grandfather the guitar; and her father, a preacher, plays “every instrument” but mainly focuses on the piano. Because of that heritage and her connection to the church, Howard had to learn to play a variety of instruments.

“Everyone plays something in my family,” she said. “I grew up a PK (preachers kid) so I pretty much had to learn how to do everything,” said Howard, who studied music at Barry University, a Catholic school in South Florida. Her abilities were developed outside the classroom.

“I learned drums by sitting back [and] watching my brother and uncles play. Then my dad told me to get on and that was all she wrote. I've always had a love for the drums and just keeping rhythm and holding down the beat!” she exclaimed.

Inspired by her father, she made music her career. Howard has worked with bands and artistes including Trina, Kent Jones, Karol G, Bad Bunny, as well as a number of gospel artistes.

Howard has been working with Cham for the past two years.

“Cham has always had a dream of an all-female band,” Howard said. “First, they were looking for a bass player. I was the only person anyone knew of down here in Florida. It worked out perfectly. I've been working with Cham ever since and it's been great!”

She added that: “It's now become a family! I've learned so much with him, business-wise and musically. I'm very appreciative for the experience. It's become a tight-knit unit. It really feels like family.”

Cham is equally complimentary about his band.

“It's been a great vibe working with the females. They pay more attention to details than males, in my opinion, and they know in a male-dominated industry they have to go harder to get recognition so they rehearse even longer which is great,” he told Splash.

Since working with Cham, Howard developed a greater appreciation for reggae music.

“I liked reggae before but I didn't have much knowledge of it; now it's a part of my everyday playlist.”

Howard aspires to be her own artiste one day, but until then she just wants to travel the world doing what she loves — playing music.

She has toured Europe, Toronto and Barbados. She also played on the Welcome to Jamrock Cruise and is back in Jamaica for Backyard Bbq in Portmore tomorrow.

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