Drumming has always been a male-dominated activity. There’s also unfortunately been a stereotype surrounding women drummers having a lack of musical ability. But as you’ll learn in this article, women drummers have just as much passion, talent and creativity as their male counterparts!
Female drummers have conquered the music industry and proven that they have exactly what it takes to perform on sell-out arena tours worldwide, and on hit records that sell millions.
Without further ado, and in no particular order, I present to you my list of the best female drummers in the world right now that are exceptionally talented.
Kicking off this list of the best female drummers we have Hannah Welton, an incredibly talented young female drummer from Louisville, Kentucky. She was previously a member of bands Pandorum and Bellevue Suite.
Welton began learning drums at a young age, and has been under the supervision of some of the world’s most renowned drummers including Pete Erskin and Louie Bellson. In 2013 she was invited by Prince to play in his backing band 3rdeyegirl – a gig suitably worthy of Hannah’s talents!
Terri Lyne Carrington
Up next on our list of top female drummers we have Terri Lyne Carrington- a multiple Grammy Award Winning female drummer, composer, singer, record producer, activist, educator and entrepreneur hailing from Massachusetts. She has recorded and toured with an insane number of jazz legends including Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, Wayne Shorter and more.
Carrington truly is an exceptional, multi-faceted talent. She is also the very first female to win a Grammy Award in the Best Jazz Instrumental category. She is without a doubt one of the best female drummers on this planet, demonstrating immaculate control and complete musicality throughout all of her performances.
Cindy Blackman is an electrifying female jazz and rock drummer from Ohio, and she has performed extensively with some of the world’s most popular musical acts including Lenny Kravitz and Santana. Cindy’s passion for drumming began at a very young age and she was born into a very musical family, which has helped fuel her creativity.
Blackman describes her first experience with a drum set as a profound moment: “When I hit them, it was like, wow, that’s me. That’s completely natural for me. It’s like breathing for me….” Cindy Blackman is without a doubt one of the most famous female drummers alive today, and she has worked hard to break down the stigma of women drummers – knowing musicality has nothing to do with gender!
As I was growing up, all of the popular drumming magazines featured only male drummers from cover to back. Anika Nilles has absolutely conquered the worldwide drumming scene, and has been featured in all of the drum magazines countless times for her incredible work ethic and blistering drum solos .
Anika’s technique is flawless and she executes her chops and fills with surgical precision. She has amassed over 20 million views on YouTube and she is incredibly highly regarded within the drumming community, performing international clinics and master classes.
Sheila E is considered by many to be the best female drummer alive. She is undoubtedly one of the most famous female drummers of all time, and has rightfully earned her title as the queen of percussion. Sheila is a multi-talented performer, producer, composer and drummer having rose to fame in the 1980’s.
Sheila E has recorded and toured extensively with many iconic artists including Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Prince. She became an inspiration for many women who wanted to pick up the drum sticks, in such a male dominated scene. Sheila E has truly helped to change the perception of female drummers.
Senri Kawaguchi is Japan’s drumming phenomenon who has taken the drumming world by storm! With over 40 million views on YouTube, Kawaguchi has proven herself as a world-class musician, and one of the best female drummers alive.
Senri Kawaguchi performs with dazzling speed, accuracy and ferocity. She displays exceptional control over the drums with power and speed – she is a true powerhouse. Do not let her looks fool you!
Much like all of the women featured in this list of top female drummers, Nikki Glaspie has an amazing drumming gift. Nikki Glaspie graduated from Berklee College in 2005, and has since travelled the world as the drummer in Beyonce’s all-woman backup band. She has also had the pleasure of performing with Chaka Kahn, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Destiny’s Child. An impressive list to say the least!
Nikki Glaspie is a diverse performer, and has a very exciting range of skills at her disposal. Whether it’s hard-hitting rock or gospel, or lighter jazz-fusion, you best believe that she is more than capable to rise to the occasion.
Next on our list of best female drummers we have Sarah Thawer, a lady who has quickly risen to fame in the drumming world thanks to her superb drumming style and technical finesse. Thawer is exceedingly capable playing a diverse range of styles including rock, jazz, Latin, funk, RnB, fusion, world music and much more.
Sarah Thawer is also a fantastic composer and writes her own arrangements for drum clinics and workshops. Percussion Arts Society and Zildjian are showing Thawer a lot of love and recognition, and I’m very excited to see what she will continue to offer throughout her career.
No list of famous female drummers would be complete without Israeli born Meytal Cohen! Without a doubt one of the top female drummers of our time, Cohen has racked up over 100 million YouTube views – an astonishing feat.
It’s easy to see why Meytal Cohen is the most watched female drummer online – she is very talented and you really experience how much she enjoys playing drums – playing on an epic drum set. She has a hard-hitting style and loves performing rock, metal and punk covers, adding her own exciting rhythmic flavour!
Lastly we have Emannuelle Caplette, a top female drummer who has enjoyed a long and successful career as a performing musician. Caplette began drumming at 9 years old, and throughout her teenage years she won consecutive drumming awards at the Provincial Individuals Championship in Quebec.
During her studies at the University of Montreal, Caplette was hired for professional touring and has been touring the world ever since! She is sponsored by many of the best drum brands including Sabian, Vic Firth, Sonor and Evans and also frequently performs at major drum festivals around the world.
Final Thoughts on The Best Female Drummers
All of the best female drummers featured within this guide are inspirational musicians. To be able to succeed in such a male-dominated environment deserves serious recognition. Not only that, but these incredible women are paving the way for future generations of girl drummers who feel motivated to follow in their footsteps!
All of the amazing women drummers (including many more that aren’t mentioned in this article) are really transforming the perception of female drummers, and finally breaking the stigma for good.
If you are interested in supporting future female drumming talent, check out the Hit Like a Girl Contest – an amazing competition showcasing and encouraging lifelong musicianship for girls and women, regardless of age, playing level or geographic location.