In her early years, Layne Redmond watched Karen Carpenter play the drums and asked her parents for a drum set. She was told girls didn't play drums and that she should stick with her dance lessons, and to her cheer-leading. In retrospect, Layne credits these activities for her sense of time and appreciation of the community ritual.
At the University of Florida, Layne completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and moved to New York City for graduate work at the Brooklyn Museum. It was the 70's and she quickly became very involved in the art world there.
One evening she attended a Glen Velez drum concert and asked him for drum lessons. Glen agreed. Thus began her life as a frame drum student, drumming with her teacher for 9 years. She proved to be a gifted and dedicated student, and a frame drummer Glen welcomed into recording studios. Hand Dance, Internal Combustion, Seven Heaven, Ramana, and Assyrian Rose were some of the resulting CD's.
She also helped Glen sort his hundreds of slides of ancient goddesses and priestesses, many holding frame drums. Layne wondered why the drummers were women and spent the next 15 years answering this question.
In time, Layne set out on her own and soon had 50 students each week . Out of these, she formed the Mob of Angels, a NYC ritual frame drum group we can hear today in Layne's CD, "Since the Beginning."
But, the question 'why,' and her research since asking 'why,' pressed in upon Layne. To assemble and analyze the data she had collected, Layne gave up her students and personal performances to focus on her book, "When the Drummers Were Women," published in 1997. Since then, WDWW has been translated into other languages including Dutch and German; it is now being republished.
With her book published, Layne resumed her teaching and performance. This included accepting an invitation to go to Brazil which quickly became the country of her heart. For Layne, Brazil offers the clearest examples today of frame drumming integrated fully in a community's daily, religious life, just as the frame drum was well before King's David's time. Brazilian drumming also carries within it some of the primordial rhythms of Africa before slavery. Layne was also invited to Cyprus where, after reading Layne's book, a group of avid frame drummers gathered to drum together and to begin recapturing the lost frame drums tradition of Cyprus dating back to c. 1200 BCE. Layne's CD called "Invoking Aphrodite" was one of their results. Another of Layne's CD's, "The Wave of Bliss" carries Mediterranean and Brazilian rhythms.
Layne is rightfully recognized as a very gifted drummer, composer, performer, film-maker and teacher of the frame drum, including patterns from the ancient middle east, Brazil and others. She is featured in music festivals throughout the world; she performs at universities and colleges, yoga institutions, and professional percussion associations. Check out her website! www.layneredmond.com She continues to offer workshops for her many students, including students who are now teaching this form of frame drumming.
Layne's amazingly gentle, beautiful smile emerges from the depths of her heart, welcoming each of her students, whenever and wherever we are with her. Genuine hospitality radiates from her and easy laughter. For all that Layne is and has done with and for us, we are forever truly grateful. Her book shares many more and wonderful stories from her life!
Layne's Last Workshop
It was a shock to hear the news: Layne was in hospital and, unless she had surgery, she would die that week. The surgery was successful and Layne was able to attend the event that she named "Layne's Last Workshop!"
This was the fourth in a series of annual summer retreats particularly for her advanced student but open to beginners as well. The photo in this section show how well attended her workshops were. In view of her illness, she offered a full refund to any who had registered and paid their registration. With that invitation and to her delighted surprise, the list of registrants grew in response. And so it was that her Last Workshop went forward. Layne attended the entire event but had the advanced drummers working with Tommy Brunjes and Farrunnissa Rosa with the beginners. She was able to join nearly every session she had planned for a little while but soon retired to her room. She did lead our evening events, however, to our great joy!
Layne's final ritual on the Saturday evening was so profound. Her rituals and worship times have always been central and formative for her drummers. Layne describes the importance of these moment when she writes for her website:
"Rituals are collective actions that access and influence the deep resources of the unconscious mind. Using sacred symbols, sound, and energy, rituals open communication between different dimensions of our being and between the human and the divine. What we feel, care for, and imagine together influences the innermost resources of the unconscious mind. Our shared energy and emotion transforms our drumming, breathing and sound practices into the path of self-realization."
Her rituals are always innovative, and moving because they always take us to those deepest "resources of the unconscious mind". Her closing ritual at her final workshop included a libation prayer time with the water we poured being given to Mother Earth the following day. And it included a prayer ribbon prayer time, with ribbons Layne brought back from Brazil. Three knots representing three prayers each said were then used to attach each ribbon to iron garden poles. The prayers now stand in a garden nearby. The two rituals took a good amount of time and throughout it all, Layne and Tommy played from their hearts on tars. Such a blessing!
After Layne and Tommy retired for the night, our group of 35 (mostly but not all women) drummed and softly sang Omalu for many minutes and then stood and then sat in complete silence, each drummer communing in their heart. Not a few tears quietly fell from our eyes. None spoke or moved. None left the room. After a considerable time, one woman began to sing, quietly, a hymn to the goddess. All, also quietly, joined in and, with spontaneous pauses for silence between each hymn, another began a different hymn and everyone joined in. In time, the singing shifted to a long series of woman songs, then songs for Earth and creation, again with everyone joining in. When the moment felt right after a prolonged silent pause, a Beatles song burst forth from one of us: "All You Need is Love" and then "She Loves You!" And, we rose and we dancedl Grieving had turned to comfort and then to joy. Thanks be to the Singer and the Song! And to our much loved Layne.