- By Jordan Liffengren
- Publishing January 23, 2015
After three years, 15 winners and hundreds of contestants from dozens of countries, recent posts from past participants of the Hit Like A Girl female drumming contest highlight some of the positive, long-term impacts of the program. While several of the girls and women that participated in the contest have gone on to high-profile activities in the music business, many report being empowered by the experience, elevating their drumming and becoming more serious about their music.
The 2014 champion Riesha Fayson (US) performed at the PASIC convention in November and is currently touring China with R&B ambassador Carlton J. Smith. 2013 winner Val Sepulveda (Chile) is an instructor at Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles. And 2012 champ De’Arcus Curry (US) (right) is out on the road with R&B artist T-Pain. Other former finalists, including Venzella Joy (Beyoncé,US), Anika Nilles (YouTube drumming sensation from Germany) and Michaela Brezovsky (body and vocal percussion group Rhythm4, Austrian), have also taken advantage of opportunities created by the contest to expand their playing and careers.
Even some of the girls in the contest’s under 18 division have experienced the Hit Like A Girl effect. Milana Nigro joined a band and had the opportunity to play with Stewart Copeland and Sheila E. Marlhy Murphy’s band, Pretty Little Demons, toured and performed at Lollapalooza last summer and Natalie DePergola was recently featured on the Modern Drummer magazine website.
One result of the contest that is often mentioned by past participants— and shared by a majority of them— is a renewed commitment and increased passion for playing drums. “Being a finalist in 2013 helped me grow my band’s fan base, inspire other female drummers, and gave me the confidence to keep going,” says 2013 Finalist Justine Curry. “I still have people coming up to me and saying they recognize me from my contest video. It's a great feeling.”
Justine’s comments are echoed by a number of post-contest stories from other Hit Like A Girl drummers. Here are a handful:
Since last year's contest Megan Clarke opened her own teaching studio, was hired for more studio work, joined a jazz combo and has been networking with industry professionals.
Her entries in the 2013 and 2014 contests inspired Vicky Reader (AKA "Buttfairy", right) to take jazz drumming lessons even though she is a diehard metal drummer. The contest also encouraged her to make more drum videos and raise her online profile.
Betka Beatrix Bednárová was inspired to practice 10-15 hours a week for half a year, after which she played many shows in her country and found a new drumming friend to practice with.
Luisafer Kewn (US) continues to play gigs as often as possible with her band. She found that the video she made for last year's contest helped her promote herself and the band online.
After HLAG 2014 Jas Kayser left the UK to study at The Berklee College of Music in Boston. Once there, she was asked to go on tour with The Furies and had “the most amazing time performing in Nashville, New Jersey, St Louis and Cleveland— places I’d only ever seen in movies”.
Aaliyah Jay (right, UK)credits the Hit Like A Girl contest with opening doors to play gigs and tour the US. She is now the Musical Director for 2 bands and runs her own music event.
Klaudia Czerwinska (Poland) has been playing with bands in the Netherlands and other European countries. This year she became one of HLAG’s twenty International Ambassadors.
In the past months, Caitlin McMullen started taking lessons “to learn drums other than from the self-taught perspective (which has blown my mind), started speaking with more drummers to exchange technique/gear thoughts and pushed myself to become better and more open to learning and new ideas. I feel so... enlightened.”
Based on the success of the Hit Like A Girl contest in promoting and supporting the female drumming community, there’s one more trend that’s shared by past participants as well as future ones: the excitement and anticipation of the March 1, 2015 start of the 2015 Hit Like A Girl contest. As Dotrup Drumz from Lagos, Nigeria says, “I went in for the 2014 edition and all I can say is, ‘Look out for Dotrup Drumz in 2015!’.”
Since the Hit Like A Girl Contest began in 2011 there have been nearly 1,200 entrants from 42 countries and more than 6,000,000 web impressions. Previous sponsors have included Guitar Center, GoPro, DRUM!, Drum Workshop, Yamaha and Zildjian as well as many other leading drum, percussion, hardware, electronics and media companies. For 2015, Hit Like A Girl is expanding its reach with the International Ambassador program; a worldwide network of female drummers promoting the contest and benefits of drumming to local players and media.