5 Famous Female Drummers: Instrumental Inspirations

Yup its Friday…..time for more inspiration.  Famous female drummers are in spotlight this week. I have made this weeks choice for two reasons. Perhaps the biggest reason is to show that many women have made a career as a percussionist. As an educator I have noticed that not many young females will pick the drums as their first choice but those who are assigned to them fall in love almost immediately.

The second reason for choosing female drummers is to simply place them in the spotlight. We always hear about great drummers but quite often these great drummers are men. I have nothing against male drummers. They will get into the spotlight too but todays post will focus on female drummers.

Before I introduce todays instrumental inspirations I would like to note that these drummers have not just excelled on the drum kit. Many of them play a variety of percussion instruments. The percussion family is the biggest instrument family, with many of them finding their place in popular music.

The female drummers featured today are:

  • Sheila E. (Sheila Escobedo)
  • Meg White
  • Sandy West
  • Cindy Blackman
  • Gina Schock

Famous Female Drummers

Sheila E.

Sheila E.

 Sheila E. (Sheila Escovedo), born on December 12th, 1957, is an American, singer and percussionist from California. During her career she has performed with many notable musicians including  Ringo Starr, Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Kanya West, and  Prince.

Escovedo started playing the drums at a very young age with her Father who was also a percussionist. By her early twenties Sheila had already performed with well known musicians such as Diana Ross and Lionel Richie.

In 1978 Sheila met Prince for the first time while performing with her father. At that time Prince showed interest in her work, noting that they would indeed eventually work together. In 1984 Sheila began collaborating with Prince and continued to work with him until leaving his organization in 1989. However, since leaving the Prince organization she has performed with him on a number of occasions.

Sheila E. has collaborated with many other musicians during her career, as well as, performing and releasing recordings as a solo artist. Sheila E. is considered, by many, to be one of the best funk drummers of all time.

Please enjoy Sheila E. performing on the Late Show with David Letterman

 Meg White


Meg White” by John Griffiths – Flickr. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meg_White.jpg#/media/File:Meg_White.jpg

Meg White, born December 10th, 1974, is an American Drummer. She is best known for her work with Jack White in the rock duo The White Stripes. She was actually married to Jack White when the group was formed in 1997. The group quickly gained local recognition followed by national and international recognition. Many may recognize The White Stripes popular song entitled “Seven Nations Army.” Before separating in 2011 The White Stripes were awarded six Grammy awards.

Of course I am going to share a video of The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army.” One of my all time favourite songs.

Sandy West

Sandy West

“Sandy West” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sandy_West.jpg#/media/File:Sandy_West.jpg

Sandy West, born on July 10th, 1959, was an American singer, songwriter, and drummer. She was one of the founding members of the first teenage all-girl rock group, The Runaways, to achieve commercial success.

At the age of 9 she received her first drum set from her grandfather and began practicing rock music. She quickly became very proficient on the drum set. By the age of 13 she had become the only girl playing in local rock groups at teenage parties.

At 15 years of age West joined forces with Joan Jett and Kim Fowley to form the teenage female rock group, The Runaways, in 1975. The group enjoyed commercial success for 4 years before disbanding in 1979.

Unfortunately, West was unable to save her career as a musician after The Runaways separated, but has been recognized as a major contributor to rock drumming. West was described as a pioneer rock drummer by Time Magazine.

Sandy West performing Wild Thing with The Runaways in 1977.

Cindy Blackman

Cindy Blackman

“Cindy Blackman 2” by Mandy Hall – originally posted to Flickr as Cindy Blackman. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cindy_Blackman_2.jpg#/media/File:Cindy_Blackman_2.jpg

Cindy Blackman(also known as Cindy Blackman-Santana), born on November 18th, 1959 is an American jazz and rock drummer. She is best known for performing and recording with Lenny Kravitz, but has also released albums under her own name and with other notable musicians. She also performs with her husband, Carlos Santana.

Cindy Blackman performing a drum solo

Gina Schock


“The Go-Gos – Gina Schock” by Ron Baker (Kingsnake) from Austin, Texas – The Go-Go’s. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Go-Gos_-_Gina_Schock.jpg#/media/File:The_Go-Gos_-_Gina_Schock.jpg

Gina Schock, born on August 31, 1959,  is best known as the the drummer in the all female rock band, The Go-Go’s. Aside from being a member of The Go-Go’s Schock has also worked with many other musicians including Little Richard, Alanis Morissette, and Wilson Philips.

During her career Schock has also developed her singing and songwriting skills. She was a cowriter of the title track for the Miley Cyrus album Breakout. She has also cowrote several songs for Selena Gomez and the Scene’s debut album Kiss and Tell.

Gina Schock performing with The Go-Go’s.

Just 5 Famous Female Drummers

That’s just 5 women who have found success behind the drum set, as well as, playing other instruments of the percussion family. These women have certainly inspired me to keep doing what I’m doing. Obviously we won’t all reach international recognition but we can sure put our heart and souls into striving to be the best that we can be.

I hope you have enjoyed todays post about famous female drummers. Although I haven’t presented as much information about these notable musicians as past musicians they are very important to the music world. Do you have a favourite female drummer? I would love to hear about them. I always like getting ideas from my readers so please leave me a comment with your favourite musician. They just might end up in an upcoming instrumental inspirations post.


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