African drumming focus of Monthly Music Mix

Jerry Jenkins, left, travels around the region performing the djembe, an African drum. (Courtesy)

Jerry Jenkins, left, travels around the region performing the djembe, an African drum. (Courtesy)

By Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Link Centre’s Monthly Music Mix has featured rock ‘n’ roll, blues, gospel, country and everything in between – but never African drumming.

That changes this Sunday with a performance by Jerry Jenkins & West African Djembe Drum Ensemble Hasan Drums.

Jenkins is a djembefola, a master at the African drum djembe.

Djembe “actually means ‘let’s come together,’” Jenkins said. “It defines a means of community and social life. I can’t be solely a djembe drummer. It has a community. The audience are not just spectators; the audience participates.”

Jenkins, based out of Jackson, not only plays the drum but teaches it to others.

“I want to show students the idea that their culture is valuable, that they can sustain themselves through expression of their culture,” he said. “When you don’t have culture, you don’t produce art. McDonald’s becomes your cuisine.”

African music tells stories, and in his shows Jenkins will often explain the stories that are sung in African languages. The music celebrates every part of life.

“There’s always a story and a song. You’re taking an instrument so woven in the lives of the people. If they have a wedding, the djembe is there. When they gather their crops and produce, the drum is there,” he said.

He hopes audiences find inspiration in music created with this ancient instrument.

“I hope people will come and attend, listen to the music and the story,” he said. “And somehow, when they leave, it influences them to get up and live.”

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CHECK IT OUT

What: Jerry Jenkins & West African Djembe Drum Ensemble Hasan Drums

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Link Centre Concert Hall

Cost: $10/adults, $5/students

Info: (662) 690-4011