Djembe Drum


The item that carries great significance to my family and me is a pair of African Djembe drums. My father bought the drums when he was in college and played them for me when I was a kid. In his 20s, my father had a yearning to learn about his African culture. At some point in time he attended a class where they taught Djembe rhythms. My grandfather (his father) was a famous jazz musician in the 50s. Learning how to play the drums while also learning about his African heritage was a way to get closer to his father. Some of my earliest memories as a child were hearing my dad play the drums for me. It was the catalyst for my love of music and other art forms. 
Seeing my grandfather’s musical legacy led me to attempt to create my own. I learned how to play the bass at a young age and continued to improve. I became the only electric bass player in my high school and was highly sought after by every school band. The biggest highlight of my career as a bassist was getting the play Jaco Pastorius’s “The Chicken” at my final Jazz Band concert. My love for jazz also led me to be briefly involved with an organization called “Music on the Inside.” It’s a program that seeks to teach juvenile offenders jazz music in prisons as a rehabilitative tool. I would realize that my academic talents surpassed my musical talents so I helped the organization by conducting research in the early stages of its existence. Getting to spread the joy jazz music gave me to others made it a great experience. 

Place(s): Africa,

– Austin Johnson

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant