While Carnival may be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about August in Grenada, there are many other activities to engage in when on the island for the festivities. Grenada has a rich, storied history, of which music plays a major part. Found on the boundary-line between the parishes of St. Andrew and St. Patrick is the small rural community of Tivoli. It is here, on the northeastern side of Grenada, that the Tivoli Drummers are found and the annual Grenada Drum Festival is held.
The Tivoli Drummers
The Afro-Caribbean group focusses on a style of drumming from the traditional drumming brought to Grenada by African men and women during the slave era. The Tivoli Drummers were founded in 1995 with the goal of spreading drum culture; once founded, the group recruited young members and taught them the traditional art of drum playing, dancing, and singing. While the Tivoli Drummers are known around the island for their signature choreographed drumming, it wasn’t until after they were formed that they reached that style of drumming, when it was recognized that the number of people needed to participate and the level or organization needed to maintain the traditional style was proving to be difficult. It was then that choreographed drumming was introduced. The choreography is unique to the Tivoli drummers and is their signature style.
The Grenada Drum Festival
The Grenada Drum Festival has been held since 2001. Following a 2000 visit to Guadaloupe in which he attended the Gwoka festival of the drums, the Director of the Tivoli Drummers – Livingston Krumah Nelson – formed the Drum Festival committee that set goals for the Grenada event, holding the first festival not long after.
The first festival had the goals of: Displaying the various types of drums; showcasing skilled drum players; facilitating workshops in dancing and drumming; displaying traditional drumming, dancing, and rituals surrounding the drums.
This year’s Drum Festival will be held Monday, August 5th at Moonlight City, La Poterie, St. Andrew. The location will be transformed into a cultural village with traditional drumming and dancing, as well as Grenadian dishes being served and local arts on display.