Sue Hadjopoulos The Maestra of Latin Drumming

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Sue Hadjoupoulos has been long recognized as a major talent by music pros. She remains the only Greek-Puerto Rican percussionist today.

Sue Hadjoupoulosh is the brain behind many of the distinctive percussive sounds used by many Latin, rock and pop acts of the modern generation.

sue hadjopoulos
sue hadjopoulos

One of the main reasons Sue became a great musician is because she grew up in a music family. She started training at a very early age. Her first instrument was the flute, which she mastered before changing to drums and percussion. Her six years of classical training for the flute laid the ground for what she would become next.

Sue was only 17 when her first professional gig came up. It was a major defining moment for her career, which she continued taking very seriously with many session works.

At the same time, she was pursuing her top-flight academic career, earning a degree with honors in Anthropology. She went on for postgraduate studies at Mannes College of Music in Manhattan and later joined the BMI’s Lehman-Engel Musical Theater Workshop. She was then working as a librettist and composer/lyricist.

That was not enough for her. Hence she started taking private lessons in percussion under Hector Hernandez, Louie Bauzo, and Pablo Rosario. She also went for vocal technique studies with Katie Agresta. With all these in her head, Sue was ready to take over the world, and she started in the field of Latin music as a co-founder on the timbalero of Latin Fever.

The 14-piece female salsa band was very successful, with their breakthrough CD “Larry Harlow Presents Latin Fever” rising to the top. She was now a professional performer with the skills to perform in several salsa bands. She fondly recalls how she received a standing ovation for her timbale solo with Ismael Quintana.

When the master himself, Tito Puente, applauded her, she became hugely motivated and continued discovering different drums’ approaches.  For her, exploring Latin roots was a calling, as evidenced in her ingenious combining of Afro-Cuban rhythms with the rock and pop formats.

Even after doing all this, Sue was not yet where she wanted to be. And when the opportunity came to work with British rocker Joe Jackson on the platinum-selling album, “Night & Day,” she took it with open arms sealing her fate as a great drummer.

sue hadjopoulos performing
sue hadjopoulos performing

She accompanied him on a world tour that would mark the real beginning of her ascent to the top.  She came out as a true innovator in the field of contemporary music, giving birth to laudatory press and sell-out shows across the world. She featured among the top five percussionists in the Latin/Brazilian Category of Modern Drummer Magazine.

Sue’s appearance on the Grammy award-winning CD, “Symphony No. 1” by Joe Jackson, indicated just how influential she had become in the industry. She continued working with Joe Jackson and other great musicians in modern times to establish her career.

Apart from her smooth blend of pop/salsa rhythms that have since become her signature, she is known for incredible composing skills.

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