Susie Ibarra – A Drummer on a Mission

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Filipina-American percussionist Susie Ibarra grew up in Houston, Texas, her parents having emigrated from the Philippines. Her musical interest was sparked at the tender age of four when she began playing the piano. In grade school, she joined the school choir and church choir as well, boosting her confidence. Later, when she joined Sarah Lawrence College, her interest in Jazz was kindled. 

Her musical sound has, over the years, evolved to be unique and outstanding. Susie Ibarra incorporates her Filipino heritage with her jazz style making her sound much more interesting. Her amazing skill set has made her perform in various concert halls and a number of festivals. Some of these halls include the Zankel Hall, Barbican Theatre London, and Gallery Pavilion London. Moreover, she performed in the Rio 2016 Olympics and Morocco’s Sacred Musical Festival in the same year.  

Susie Ibarra
susie ibarra

Throughout her musical career, Susie has always been on the lookout for female musicians. She has tirelessly worked to see that female talent is recognized in a male-dominated sector. For instance, in 1999, the drummer led a series of performances directed by women at the Tonic nightclub in New York. 

In addition, she has also cleared the misunderstanding of the genre she mostly is associated with-Jazz. Most people misinterpreted jazz to be a form of loud music originating from anger. However, for Susie, Jazz is a form of free expression, true freedom. Being of Filipino descent, Susie also plays Philippine folk songs. In 2007, she researched indigenous Philippine songs. 

After that, she and Roberto Juan recorded and filmed seven tribes in the Philippines that have become indigenous. Later in 2007, the duo started a group that focused on preserving these indigenous groups. Her efforts to positively impact her community never went without support from other organizations. The Asian Cultural Council supported Susie’s research project on glacial recession.

In 2010, Ibarra was titled the best percussionist in the Downbeat Critics Poll. Furthermore, she has been featured on the cover of various drum magazines like Modern Drummer and TomTom. Her musical career has seen her perform both locally and internationally. Most of Susie’s projects have morphed, accommodating this new era of the pandemic. 

Susie Ibarra Performing
susie ibarra performing

One of Susie’s pieces, Water Rhythms, is based on her work with a climate scientist. This piece records the sound of rocks moving underwater and the howling of snow dogs. She narrates stories using sounds from glacier rocks. This provides a unique way for humans to learn about their connection to nature and water. Over the years, the drummer has built a stellar reputation in performing in various shows and exhibitions. She flaunts working with well-known industry gurus.

Susie has navigated her acclaimed professional career in multiple sectors. The multi-talented individual has worked and recorded with classical, indigenous, jazz, and world musicians.  She is recognized for her outstanding work in new music, jazz, avant-garde, and many more. Of course, Susie Ibarra boasts a myriad of albums, including Flower of Sulphur, Drum Sketches, Flower After Flower, and many more.

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