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What's In a Drum?

Not just a beat, but the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

by Miles Howe

Al Carter shows off the rawhide-laced backs of two of his drums. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Al Carter shows off the rawhide-laced backs of two of his drums. [Photo: Miles Howe]

K'jipuktuk (Halifax) - I had the good fortune of meeting Al Carter, drum maker, at "Experience Native Culture and Traditions" ceremonies at Victoria Park in Halifax on July 10th. Earlier in the day, Al had given a drum making workshop, and had several drums, some in the process of being built, on the tables surrounding him.

As another stroke of good fortune, standing beside Al at his table was Marlene Companion, drumkeeper for reknown, all women, drum group "All Nations Drummers". It was Companion's battle with cancer, and the power of the drum to pound her cancer into remission, that first inspired Al to take up drum making.

Elder Billy Lewis was also gracious enough to show, and play, the medicine drum that he had received in Ontario after he suffered a stroke and heart attack. As with Marlene, Billy's drum was vital for his recovery.

Please enjoy the following audio, featuring Al Carter, Marlene Companion, and Billy Lewis.

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