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   royd phipps - drumming is my calling   

     
     

    "It's a love," he said. "It comforts me when things go wrong. But most of all it's a love and a passion."

     

    On January 1, 1999 Royd Phipps took up duties at the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports and in the Department of Culture in St. Kitts he serves as a Folklore/Drumming Officer. He has been playing the drum for over 20 years and says that the reason why he drums is just a mood and feeling.

     

    "It's a love," he said. "It comforts me when things go wrong. But most of all it's a love and a passion."

     

    Phipps said that the drum is a calling, however, though there are many books that speak of drumming and teaches drumming it takes real dedication to master the skill. 

     

    And for Phipps it is different, his skill of drumming is deeper than most people's skill, 'his' stems from his grandfather who he says was the foundation of it all.

     

    His uncle also influenced him and so both men are the main influences why he is attracted to the drum today.

     

    "For me when doing just a drum logy for listening pleasure I put myself in a mood, you hear things and rhythms comes

    "For me when doing just a drum logy for listening pleasure I put myself in a mood, you hear things and rhythms comes naturally." Said Royd

     

    naturally. The drum itself has different notes," he said. "When creating a rhythm for a dance group I always try to find out from the chorographer what she wants and then creates the rhythm to go along with her dances."   

     

    As a dedicated teacher of drumming Phipps perceive drumming to have an effect on children in particular. He says the kids are now very excited to drum and strongly believes this is part of his calling. "They want to get into the drum core to perform on the annual program."

     

    His service to the community is nothing short of being outstanding, giving of his time to conduct free drumming sessions for the youths, running workshops and providing musical accompaniment for contestants in both local and overseas pageants. 

     

    His goal is to act as a role model for the kids.

     

    "I would like to see the kids change their thinking about life and get into something positive like drumming," he said. "I show the kids a lot of love and respect so mainly just to act as a role model for them would be something great and life achieving."

     

    He has helped persons such as Carla Johnson to become the first Kittitian to capture the Miss OECS title and also Youlouca Armony who captured the same title as well. They are both former Miss National Carnival Queen Winners.

     

    Drumming and dancing goes 'hand in hand' and Phipps explains both arts were actually handed down from Africa.

     

    He explained that drum and dance go together and where the drummer speaks to the dancer, the dancers react from the breaks in the music. That's why we have Okolo as the dancers and Tegremantine as the drummers.

     

    "Tegremantine was the first Carib Chief of St. Kitts that's how we got the name, so we sell ourselves as one," he said.

     

    Phipps said that when they perform it is not only a performance but entertaining and educating.

    "I get a joy when performing, I think I become someone else when Im on the drum, I am totally different I get lost in the music and let it take me where ever it wants," he said.

     

    The drum he plays is called Djembe - meaning The Healing drum. There are healing powers in music the kind that sets you free from certain worries.

     

    "I think the healing power of any music is the rhythm, the pulse of the drum, the way you feel the music," he said. "The drum does not lie the drum does not speak until you ask it to and most of all it calls you from where ever you are that's the power of the drum."

     

    Phipps also has a great concern about the American traditions of hip-hop music and etc that goes on around us. He says that Hip-hop music is a different form of culture and it is on the rise.

     

    "People will always want to identify themselves with it but rap music is a form of poetry done by a great storyteller and it is an African tradition so we can still see the African influence in it which is still apart of our culture," he said. "I can say we are losing some of it,  what can help is to get some of our folklore tutors into the schools to teach aspects of our folklore that we are loosing, tell the kids it is ok to practice these vital traditions."

     

    "We have to try and keep our youths focus on the things that are positive and get them into something like drumming dancing and some form of the arts that will occupy their time in a more productive way," he said.

     

    Phipps a true cultural man says he sees his work as carrying on the tradition here in St. Kitts and bringing the message to the people.

     

    "I see my job as drumming specialist important, my job gives me an opportunity to go to the primary and secondary schools and also in our communities to teach drumming and different aspects of our culture and heritage," he said. "So by keeping the students interested and also make the class fun I think this vital art form will be around for a long time."

     

    The National Youth Drum Core (NYDC) was launch on December 14th, 2005. It has twenty members with only two females. Some of the schools Phipps teaches are Irish Town, Tucker Clarke, Dr. William Connor, Special Ed, and the Beach Allen School. His dream is to see more drumming groups form in the federation.

     

    "We have to try and keep our youths focus on the things that are positive and get them into something like drumming dancing and some form of the arts that will occupy their time in a more productive way," he said.

     

    Phipps has represented his island in many festivals abroad including St. Croix, South Carolina, Venezuela, Scotland, England, Trinidad, French and Dutch islands, and also English speaking Caribbean islands.


    By Coleen Richardson
    Writer-SKNVIbes.com

     
     

     

     

    "I get a joy when performing, I think I become someone else when Im on the drum, I am totally different I get lost in the music and let it take me where ever it wants," he said.

     

     

     
    Ministry Of Culture: www.stkittsculture.org

     

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