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Meet The Master Jamaican Drum Maker - King Toto | Traditional Jamaican Drums

jamaican drummer drum maker

If you ever happen to sought someone who, despite the daily conflicts, chaos, complications and confusion, is totally at peace with himself, free, as he said in his own word... I know one.

He's King Toto! And yes, he's a real person :-)

A few days ago Linda (I know you'll be reading this Linda), one of my ardent subscribers reached out to me asking me about a Djembe drum.
I had absolutely know idea what that was, except that it supposedly a drum :-)

So the fact that it is a drum and I know the connection between the Rastafarians and drumming, I reached out to Queen I, a friend of mine in the Rasta Indigenous Village.

Lo and behold, not only do they have it, they make them there! All types, and all sizes!

But all that is done by only one man there, and according to him, one of the few traditional drum makers in Jamaica today.

His name is King Toto, and yes, he's the same person I mentioned to you earlier.

I had the privilege to spend some time with him there, where, not only did I get to learn about the 'powerful' Djembe drum, I also learned quite a bit about him, his inspiration and yes, about several of the other drums that he 'manufactures' - with his bare hands!

By the way, on a side note...

The Djembe drum, pronounced 'Jembe', was actually invented in Africa back in AD 1200 and is not only used for religious and ritualistic purposes but also for communication. Today it is a key feature in Jamaican music, from Mento to Reggae. According to Ras Toto, it can play up to half a dozen different tunes - amazing!

But back to him...

He has a distinguished history of playing on some of the biggest stages in Jamaica, including Reggae Sunsplash, and is known by persons from all over the globe. But today he live a very simple life in the Rastafari village... making drums, that's it.

According to him, he doesn't leave the village, not even to the doctors!
In total, I spent about an hour with him and I learned oh so much.

You'd be proud of me if I tell you I can now differentiate the funde (fundeh) drum from the kette drum, from the bass drum and yes, the djembe drum :-)



He was quick to point out that it is indeed hard work to make the drums, especially since he uses his bare hands.

But nothing, according to him, is more satisfying than doing what you love... therefore making it a game rather than work.

But my biggest learning was the beauty, happiness and peace in living a simple life! He is the epitome.

Before I completed the interview I asked him my favorite interview question... 'What makes Jamaica special?'.

His response, in a nutshell, was the freedom that he has here! Something that we sometime take for granted... I absolutely love it.

And I have good news for you... I have the complete interview (well the key parts at least) on YouTube. I recently premiered it.

Here is it (embedded) below:



Comments for Meet The Master Jamaican Drum Maker - King Toto | Traditional Jamaican Drums

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Mar 10, 2023
Djembe Drum
by: Kojo

I was in Montego Bay about six years ago and want to listen to someone drumming and no one knows where to send me, I like the drumming in Reggae Music I am started to make one Djembe from scratch but I am not sure how to prepare the Skin. I would love to get him some Hand Tools to keep on keeping on.

Editor's Note
Hi Kojo,
Please buzz me at gwellesley at when next you are here. We can arrange something for you

Jan 23, 2021
King Toto
by: Barbara

King Toto is so talented, skilled and inspiring with his words of wisdom. I've never seen drumsticks being created before. Learned a lot like how he uses almond wood, goat skin and so much more. ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽถโ™ฉ๐ŸŽต๐ŸŽถ

Jan 17, 2021
by: Doreen Lovell

WOW! Amazing. This art takes love, hard work and dedication and from all indication it is not about money. I love his ability to explain in detail and as he explains the inner feeling of doing his work as I reader I seem to be there with him. Thanks for sharing.

Jan 16, 2021
You are so right!
by: Linda

I did read that message as soon as I saw the notification!

Thanks Wellesley!!!

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