Cindy Blackman is proof that drumming does not know gender boundaries. Her imagination and the dazzling technical gifts she displays puts her on top as one of the best female drummers of all time. And she remains among the best drummers in modern times.
Cindy Blackman was one of the main reasons Lenny Kravitz’s live band became a huge hit. Her jazz work blossomed while playing alongside several master improvisers like Pharoah Sanders and Ron Carter.
Blackman always wanted to grow, and she pulled everyone else along with her. She strived to become one of the greatest performers behind the throne and a well sought-after influencer.
Blackmans’ wide mastery of different drumming skills has been a huge boost to her career. She recently proved in an album with her husband, Carlos Santana, that she could funk too. Her greatest work was with a group called Spectrum Road, that did not last very long. It was a band dedicated to the honor of jazz-rock pioneer Tony Williams.
She has also worked widely with great fusion supergroups and names like John Medeski, Vernon Reid, and Jack Bruce, among others, in instilling a new twist to some of the most challenging drumming materials. She can easily be seen as a living legend with the way she has mastered every skill. Hence Blackman is not only among the best female drummers but one of the overall best.
Cindy Blackman accepts a challenge and finds a way around. She innovates styles that only master drummers can understand. And when it comes to timekeeping, no track is too fast or too slow; she will take it on as if there is a metronome in her hands.
It is even hard to imagine such great sounds can come from her, considering her straightforward personality.
Life and career
Cindy Blackman Santana was born on November 18, 1959, in Yellow Springs. She comes from a musical family, which is one of the reasons she has come out very strongly.
“My mom played the violin in classical orchestras when she was young, just like her man. My dad was into jazz,” she said. She loved drums from an early age through a few people tried to dissuade her from passion. At 11, she moved to Bristol, Connecticut, where she studied at Hartt School of Music and got interested in jazz while listening to Max.
She got her first drum kit at 14 and continued practicing until she was perfect. While at Berklee, a friend recommended that she gigs with The Drifter. So, she later comes back to New York as a street performer.
She soon became a big influence in town, which made her pursue her career even further. Her first compositions came out in 1984 when she was showcased on Ted Curson’s “Jazz Stars of the Future” on WKCR-FM.
She then got an opportunity to work with Lenny Kravitz in 1993. She immediately flew to L.A, where she worked with him on “Are You Gonna Go My Way.”
Cindy Blackman continues to influence the jazz industry with her unique styles. Her passion and fire have never died, and they are an inspiration to many generations.