Welcome to our newest Guest Contributor, Ellen, of the brilliant women of Batala. In addition to her fast hands and upbeat drumming skills, Ellen also designed our AMAZING logo & banner. We cannot thank her enough for her fabulous work in capturing the curious quirkiness of the Zomppas. Thanks to Monkey for introducing us to this talented woman and her team of fierce drummer. Check out more about Batala.
Greetings, Zomppaphiles! My name is Ellen. I’m a graphic designer, but more important (or at least more interesting), I am a drummer in a gigantic all-female percussion band called Batalá Washington.
This is no ordinary band – it is awesome for reasons too numerous to list (though I’ll do my best to try). One reason is the sense of community that it creates – not just among the band members and within our city, but across the globe. And were it not for this sense of community, I would never have connected with the group of smart, determined food-lovers that is Zomppa.
ZomppaB’s sister and occasional guest contributor Crystal is also a member of the band. When Crystal learned her sister was in need of some graphic design help, she threw herself on the mercy of the band, and found me. This gets back to Batalá’s aforementioned awesome community of drummers. Among the 75 women in the band are designers, artists, dance instructors, chefs, computer whiz-kids, physical therapists, lawyers, teachers, fitness gurus, librarians, diplomats – a whole mess of movers and shakers who fit into the tangled fabric of nonprofits and government agencies covering Washington, DC. And when in need, one band member needs only to reach out her hand to find another who will help.
So when Crystal asked “Can you design a logo for my sister?” I said yes before I even knew what her sister did. When I learned that her sister edits an online magazine for international food enthusiasts, I felt like I hit the jackpot. I love food. I am a huge fan of cooking and baking and am one of the growing numbers of Americans who dedicates a fair amount of my time to trying to make sense of how we get our food – where it comes from, how it was made, and how it impacts our environment and economy. I was happy, nay, thrilled, to help out this organization!
I feel indebted to Batalá for connecting me to a global network of fellow food-enthusiasts. But considering what Batalá is, it only seems natural. This band, you see, is a world-wide phenomenon. The international Batalá family owes its existence to Giba Gonçalves, a drummer and composer from Salvador, Bahia. In Brazil, he was one of the founders of Cortejo Afro, an arts education project to help underserved young people living in poor communities, When he moved to Paris in 1997, he started up Batalá in Paris as the European wing of the project.
From Paris, Batalá spread to other cities in France, Belgium, Spain, Africa, the United Kingdom, and back to its origins in Brazil. The first North American chapter of Batalá was founded in Washington in 2007 by a drummer from Batalá Brasilia (the only other all-female chapter), who moved here with her family.
All of the band’s instruments and costumes are manufactured in Salvador, providing jobs and income for disadvantaged families in that area. And since we all wear the same costumes and play the same music as the other Batalá bands, there are occasions where bands from across the globe meet up and play together! This August, I traveled to London and played in the Notting Hill Carnival with drummers from the UK, France, Greece, Brazil, and several other countries, and I hope to one day fly down to Salvador and meet up with an enormous assembly of drummers for Carnaval. This feeling of connectedness on a global scale, through music, is awe-inspiring.
So, I hope you all like the new logo. It was a really fun project, and I’m excited to have an opportunity to meet the people of Zomppa and help them do the amazing work they do. Thanks to Crystal for connecting me to your sister. Thank you Batalá for connecting me to Crystal. And to 74 other strong, beautiful, hilarious women here, and to all my other Batalá sisters and brothers around the world: Batalá Hey!
Check them out during the 2011 Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City!