Famous Women Drummers

Famous Women Drummers

Female percussionists have been making waves in the music industry since the 19th century. From jazz and punk to rock and pop, these talented women have left a lasting impact on the world of drumming. In this article, we will explore the remarkable journeys of some of the most renowned female drummers who have defied stereotypes and become drumming legends.

Key Takeaways:

  • Female drummers have been revolutionizing the music world since the 19th century.
  • Karen Carpenter’s jazz sensibility set her apart as a talented drummer.
  • Viola Smith’s incredible speed and showmanship made her a celebrated jazz drumming star.
  • Sandy West’s powerful drumming style influenced generations of women in punk rock.
  • Cindy Blackman Santana’s versatility and talent established her as one of the greatest drummers of her generation.

Karen Carpenter: The Jazz Sensibility of a Pop Star

When it comes to iconic drummers, Karen Carpenter is often overlooked. Best known for her enchanting vocals as part of the legendary duo The Carpenters, Karen’s talent extended beyond her captivating voice. She was also an incredibly skilled drummer, demonstrating a unique jazz sensibility that set her apart from her peers. Despite her untimely passing at the age of 32, Carpenter’s contributions as a drummer continue to inspire future generations of female drummers.

Although she initially gained recognition for her vocal prowess, Carpenter’s drumming abilities were undeniable. In a “Best Drummers” poll, she even surpassed the legendary John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, solidifying her status as a true pioneer in the world of drumming.

Karen Carpenter’s jazz sensibility infused her drumming style with a distinct rhythm and groove. Her impeccable timing and intuitive understanding of the instrument allowed her to effortlessly accompany the melodies of The Carpenters’ pop hits.

“I think Karen Carpenter was one of the most iconic drummers of her time. She had this natural feel and finesse that just couldn’t be taught. She added a jazz sensibility to pop music, which was truly groundbreaking. Her drumming was an integral part of The Carpenters’ sound.”

Carpenter’s drumming served as a catalyst for future female drummers, proving that women could excel in a field traditionally dominated by men. Her talent and success opened doors for other female drumming pioneers, paving the way for the recognition and acceptance they deserved.

The Influence of Karen Carpenter’s Jazz Sensibility

Karen Carpenter’s jazz-influenced drumming style left an indelible mark on the music industry. She brought a unique rhythmic complexity to her performances, blending pop melodies with intricate drum patterns. This fusion of jazz and pop not only shaped The Carpenters’ sound but also inspired countless musicians to explore new possibilities within their own music.

Today, Karen Carpenter’s legacy as both a singer and a drummer continues to resonate. Her impact on the music industry serves as a reminder that talent knows no bounds. She broke barriers and defied expectations, leaving an enduring mark as one of the most iconic drummers and female drumming pioneers of all time.

With her jazz sensibility and undeniable talent, Karen Carpenter’s contributions to the world of drumming will forever be celebrated. As the industry continues to evolve, her legacy serves as an inspiration for aspiring female drummers, reminding them that their voices, rhythms, and beats have the power to shape the future of music.

Viola Smith: The Fastest Girl Drummer in the World

Viola Smith, a trailblazer in the world of jazz drumming, made her mark on the music industry beginning in the 1920s. She became the first female star of jazz drumming, leaving a lasting legacy as one of the greats. Known for her incredible speed and showmanship, Smith captivated audiences with her unique drumming style.

Her groundbreaking performances and undeniable talent paved the way for future generations of female drummers to thrive in a male-dominated field. Viola Smith continues to be celebrated as an iconic figure, inspiring women artists around the world.

Experience the brilliance of Viola Smith’s drumming style with this video:

Viola Smith’s influence on the world of drumming cannot be understated. She defied expectations, shattered stereotypes, and opened doors for female musicians to follow their passions. Her dedication to her craft and fearless approach to performance continue to inspire celebrated women artists in the music industry today.

To honor Viola Smith’s extraordinary talent and contributions, let’s take a closer look at her achievements in the table below:

Viola Smith’s Achievements Description
First Female Star of Jazz Drumming Viola Smith broke barriers and became the leading female drummer in the jazz genre, paving the way for future generations.
Extraordinary Speed and Showmanship Known for her remarkable speed and captivating showmanship, Viola Smith left audiences in awe with her drumming performances.
Influence on Female Drummers Viola Smith’s achievements and talent inspired countless aspiring female drummers to pursue their passion and excel in the music industry.
Continued Legacy Viola Smith’s impact on the music world endures, and her contributions continue to be celebrated by musicians and fans alike.

Viola Smith’s incredible journey reminds us of the power of perseverance, talent, and determination. Her legacy will forever be etched in the annals of drumming history as a reminder of the ingenuity and brilliance of celebrated women artists.

Sandy West: The Punk Rock Drummer

Sandy West, a founding member of the iconic punk rock band The Runaways, was one of the pioneering female percussionists who left an indelible mark on the music industry. With her powerful and energetic drumming style, West played a vital role in shaping the punk rock genre and paved the way for future generations of drummers.

Known for her thunderous beats and raw talent, Sandy West brought a unique energy to The Runaways’ music. Her drumming served as the driving force behind their edgy sound and rebellious lyrics, making the band a symbol of punk rock excellence.

“I played drums because I liked the sound and the beat,” West once said. “I played with intensity, conviction, and power. I didn’t focus on gender; I focused on the music.”

Through her extraordinary drumming skills, Sandy West shattered gender stereotypes and inspired countless female musicians to pick up the drumsticks. Her impact on the punk rock scene continues to reverberate today, with her influence evident in the work of many current drumming legends.

To honor Sandy West’s legacy as one of the female percussionists who changed the game, let’s take a look at a table comparing her achievements with those of other renowned drumming legends:

Drummer Genre Notable Bands Signature Style
Sandy West Punk Rock The Runaways Powerful and energetic drumming
Karen Carpenter Pop The Carpenters Jazz sensibility and impeccable timing
Viola Smith Jazz N/A Fast-paced, showmanship drumming
Cindy Blackman Santana Various Santana, Lenny Kravitz Versatile and fusion of different styles
Patty Schemel Grunge Hole Raw and intense drumming

As seen in the table, Sandy West’s contribution to the punk rock genre remains unmatched. Her influence on drumming, particularly for female percussionists, is undeniable. Sandy West’s legacy lives on, reminding us all of the power of breaking barriers and pursuing our passions with unwavering conviction.

Cindy Blackman Santana: The Queen of Percussion

Cindy Blackman Santana is a versatile drummer known for her incredible talent and versatility. She has played with some of the biggest names in music, including Santana, Lenny Kravitz, and Prince. Blackman Santana’s mastery of percussion and ability to merge different styles of music have solidified her as one of the greatest drummers of her generation.

Blackman Santana’s powerful and dynamic drumming style captivates audiences and leaves a lasting impact. Her exceptional technical skills, coupled with her ability to infuse emotion into her playing, have earned her a well-deserved place among influential drummers.

Throughout her career, Blackman Santana has not only made a name for herself as a talented drummer, but she has also become an inspiration for women in music. As a female percussionist, she has shattered stereotypes and paved the way for other aspiring drummers.

With her natural talent and unwavering dedication, Blackman Santana continues to push the boundaries of drumming and redefine what it means to be a woman in music.

“Playing music is an art form that should not have any gender limitations. It’s about connecting with the soul, expressing oneself, and creating something beautiful. I hope to inspire other women to pursue their passion for drumming and break through any barriers they may face.”

Cindy Blackman Santana’s Discography

Album Year
Afro Blue (The Impulse! Sessions) 2011
Another Lifetime 2010
Astral Flight 2010
Works On Canvas 2007
Soul Quest 2013

Blackman Santana’s discography is a testament to her diverse and exceptional drumming skills. From jazz to rock, her contributions to numerous albums highlight her ability to adapt and excel in various genres.

With her remarkable talent, influence, and groundbreaking achievements, Cindy Blackman Santana continues to inspire aspiring drummers and pave the way for women in music.

Patty Schemel: Grunge and Beyond

Patty Schemel is recognized as one of the renowned female drummers who has made a significant impact in the music industry. She gained recognition as the drummer for the iconic grunge band, Hole. Known for her powerful and raw drumming style, Schemel perfectly complemented the band’s intense sound, leaving a lasting impression on fans and fellow musicians alike.

Despite facing personal challenges and battling addiction, Schemel emerged stronger on the other side, establishing herself as an inspiration and role model for aspiring drummers. Her perseverance and dedication to her craft continue to inspire others to pursue their passion for music.

As one of the influential drummers of her time, Patty Schemel’s contributions to the music world go beyond the grunge genre. Her talent and artistry have left an indelible mark, making her a trailblazer for aspiring female drummers. Schemel’s impact on the industry serves as a testament to the endless possibilities and creative potential of women in music.

Influence and Legacy

Patty Schemel’s influence extends far beyond her time with Hole. Her unique drumming style and relentless energy have inspired countless musicians, both male and female, to push the boundaries of their craft. Her contribution to the grunge movement and her ability to captivate audiences with her powerful beats have solidified her place as an influential drummer.

“Patty Schemel is a force to be reckoned with. Her drumming style is unmatched, and she brings an unparalleled energy to the stage. She is a true inspiration to drummers everywhere.” – Dave Grohl

Today, Patty Schemel continues to make her mark in the music world, collaborating with various artists and sharing her talent with the next generation of drummers. Her resilience and unwavering passion for drumming serve as a reminder of the power of perseverance and the impact one individual can have on an entire industry.


The journey of women in drumming has been nothing short of extraordinary. From the pioneering efforts of Karen Carpenter and Viola Smith to the raw power of Sandy West and Patty Schemel, these famous women drummers have shattered glass ceilings and redefined what it means to be a percussionist. Their talent and tenacity have left an indelible mark on the music industry, inspiring generations of young drummers to pursue their dreams.

These drumming legends have not only overcome gender stereotypes but have also paved the way for more women to enter the world of music. Their contributions have created a space where female percussionists can thrive, and their influence extends far beyond the drum kit.

As we look to the future, we can anticipate even more talented women making waves in the music scene. The drumming industry is evolving, and female musicians are at the forefront of this revolution. With their passion, skill, and determination, these women continue to challenge norms and prove that gender is no barrier to success in music.


Who are some famous women drummers?

Some famous women drummers include Karen Carpenter, Viola Smith, Sandy West, Cindy Blackman Santana, and Patty Schemel.

What made Karen Carpenter a unique drummer?

Karen Carpenter was not only known for her vocals but also for her incredible drumming skills. She had a unique jazz sensibility that set her apart from other drummers.

How did Viola Smith make history in the world of jazz drumming?

Viola Smith became the first female star of jazz drumming in the 1920s. Her incredible speed and showmanship captivated audiences and paved the way for future generations of female drummers.

What impact did Sandy West have on the punk rock scene?

Sandy West was one of the first great female punk rock drummers. Her powerful and energetic style influenced generations of drummers and helped pave the way for women in punk rock.

Who is Cindy Blackman Santana and why is she influential?

Cindy Blackman Santana is a versatile drummer known for her incredible talent and versatility. Her mastery of percussion and ability to merge different styles of music have solidified her as one of the greatest drummers of her generation.

Why is Patty Schemel considered an influential drummer?

Patty Schemel made a name for herself as the drummer for the iconic grunge band, Hole. Her powerful and raw drumming style perfectly complemented the band’s intense sound, making her an inspiration to aspiring drummers.

How have famous women drummers paved the way for future generations?

Famous women drummers like Karen Carpenter, Viola Smith, Sandy West, Cindy Blackman Santana, and Patty Schemel have broken barriers and defied stereotypes in the music industry. Their contributions continue to inspire and empower aspiring drummers around the world.

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