At the age of 10, when her church needed a drummer, Riesha Fayson somewhat reluctantly answered the call. “I didn’t really have a choice,” the 2014 Hit Like A Girl Contest Champion says. “My mom got me playing and gave me my first drum lesson. She told me ‘keep the beat like you’re clapping your hands and stomping you’re feet’. So, I just played ‘1 & 3’ on the bass and ‘2 & 4’ on the snare and hi-hat.”
With that simple yet essential drumming advice, her natural talent and a variety of Gospel, Pop, R&B and Jazz influences to draw from, Riesha continued to develop her skills and musicianship at church and beyond.
In early 2014 she again became a reluctant (and unknowing) participant in the Hit Like A Girl drumming contest for female drummers. “I had been following the contest from the beginning but I didn’t think I was good enough to be considered with such talented drummers. One day, when we were playing around at the church, the keyboard player started a groove and I just joined in. My cousin, Justin, recorded a video with his iPhone. I didn’t even want to post it on YouTube but he sent it in to the contest without telling me. When they called to inform me I won, I was in complete disbelief. I still am.”
Although Riesha may not have become a drummer or entered a drum contest in the usual way, she’s getting used to these happy surprises and planning for the future. She intends to continue her education, become a high school music teacher, tour with a band and start a group to mentor female musicians.
“Growing up in a family of 8, there wasn’t a lot of money to take lessons or buy equipment— not even drum sticks— but I never allowed that to stop me from finding other ways to improve my drumming,” Riesha explains. “My advice to all musicians— especially female musicians— is dream big. Don’t limit yourself and don’t let anyone else limit you, either.”’
–written by David Levine.