At X8 Drums, we love to hear musicians creatively incorporate the calming yet energetic rhythms of the djembe into genres in which you’d never expect to hear its exotic sounds. In fact, we’ve heard the African hand drum in metal percussion, trip-hop, a blend of classical and folk, and now, Celtic music.
Seattle-based Celtic group the Gothard Sisters are known for their eclectic blend of traditional and contemporary Celtic sounds and equally unique combination of instruments. Willow Gothard plays violin while Greta plays violin, fiddle, and guitar and adds backing vocals. Lead vocalist Solana adds the rhythm with a bodhran, a shallow one-sided Irish drum typically played with a short two-headed drumstick, and a djembe.
It’s hard to imagine hearing a djembe in Celtic music, but for the Gothard Sisters’ diverse blend of sounds, it works. Whether the sisters are performing slow, calming music or the traditional high-energy, fast-paced Celtic music that inspires Irish step dancing, the djembe seems to fit in naturally. Considering that both Celtic-Irish music and djembe music are rich with power and energy, we can see how it works. The djembe’s sounds are also similar to those of the Irish bodhran drum, so it’s actually not a far stretch when interchanging the two.
While the Gothard Sisters do perform original songs, their performances are filled with traditional Celtic tunes, some of which are hundreds of years old. The unexpected sound of the djembe gives those vintage Celtic songs a fresh twist, something the young artists are always looking to bring to their music. As Greta recently told Recordnet.com, “We’re young and try to put new, young twists on songs.”