Channel 5 TV Afternoon Variety Show, "
Twin Cities Live ", and on the KARE
Channel 11 TV Saturday Morning Show, displaying community
drumming Kenne Thomas believes that, "art reflects life"
and focuses on developing social skills and cooperative interaction
through drumming. Kenne directs the African Drumming Group at Roseville
High School and teaches World Drumming at Harmony High School in
Maplewood in Minnesota. His magazine article, Clave:
The Beat in the Percussive Arts Society's
magazine, Percussive Notes, December 2004 issue
brings to light the universal nature of percussion. Coming from a
musical family in Chicago, Illinois he became interested in music early
in life, going to places like The Plugged Nickel, The Regal, The Trio
Lounge, and The Sutherland. He began playing drums and percussion in
the mid 1960's in the Hyde Park district of Chicago with friends in and
around the multi-cultural commmunity surrounding the University of
Chicago.Influenced by family friends Jerry Butler, Gene Ammons,
Ajaramu, and Sonny Stitt, he pursued a music career, playing with local
musicians Jodie Christian, Curtis Robertson, Ari Brown, John Thomas,
Victor Zubarev, Adam Rudolph, Sonny Seals, AACM, Rasul Saddiq, Black
Artists Group, and other prominent Chicago musicians.|
Graduating from Moorhead State University, MN, with a degree in Music Education, he toured the U.S. and the world with Pop, Dance, and Jazz groups, such as Life Rhythms, Jimmy Bowman Trio, AIRTIGHT, "Paradyse," "Jerry Lakes' Memories Of Elvis Supershow",Pullman/West Band, and others. Ken's show credits include,"The Music Man","Jacques Brel", "Guys and Dolls", "OKLAHOMA", "HAIR", and others. Playing drums and percussion in the show pit orchestra is his favorite job he says because of, "the precision necessary and the variety of percussive instruments you get to play."
Moving to Japan in the early 80's, Kenne taught drums and percussion, at the Cat Music College, in Osaka and, learned the Japanese language at Osaka Language Institute, receiving his Japan national language certificate in 1993. He performed, composed, and recorded, with national, and international,touring acts, such as Kankawa Toshihiko, Othello Molineaux, Naruse Hideyuki, Ana Ananuevo, Ikeda Yoshio, Kiyoshi Sugimoto, Ronnie Rucker, MAYA, FILM AT 11, and leading his own groups. Kenne studied Taiko drumming, joining the IKAZUCHI Taiko Shudan in Osaka, with lessons by the Master Taiko drummer Sato Ryuji. Being well grounded in the Japanese society, even as a "Gaijin", or foreigner, Kenne was able to do numerous TV shows, radio commercials, and recording studio gigs. He sang and recorded the annually released vocal version of White Christmas, for TEICHIKU RECORDS CO. (CLD 22DK-2023), Tokyo, Japan.
In 1987 his original song "Graduation Day" was released on 45 RPM. Traveling the world, Kenne learned what he calls, "the true meaning of what it is to be a citizen of the world". Exploring world music further Kenne studied West African rhythms with Michael Taylor, Yaya Kabo, Michael Markus, and Abdoul Doumbia.
He started the Drums From A Small Planet seminars in 1991, while teaching at YMCA Osaka International College, in Japan. He wanted a way to express to the students how, although we may be geographically different, we have similar cultural roots and, we CAN speak the same language - music.
Kenne teaches music with an emphasis on Music Therapy for educational programs and institutions. With a busy schedule he makes time for lessons for young students and active players giving instruction on drum set and world percussion instruments in the Twin-Cities. He has been bringing his seminars to community centers, schools, libraries, churches, synogogues, and organizations in the U.S. since 1994. From the Great Lakes to the Rocky Mnts., he addresses the concept of, "Think Globally / Act Locally."
Kenne has performed on concert percussion with the Grand Symphonic Wind Ensemble, of St. Paul, orchestral percussion with the "St. Paul Civic Symphony", jazz drums with the Roseville Big Band, in Minnesota and also leads the world beat percussion group, "Mpulse". Kenne has authored many articles and books. His "Drum Circle Cookbook" has been well received around the world by teachers and facilitators. Other publications of Kenne's include the hand drum instructional books, "Hand Drumming Independence", "Conga Drum Fever", "Mil veces Merengue", "Drum Circles" "Jembe Gems" and the popular, "RhythmiKidz", focusing on hand drum rhythm patterns and activities for kids. His newest book, written along with artist and educator Barbara Lyman, "RhythmiKidz II: Say It & Play It" contains hand drum rhythms to nursery rhymes and adaptive rhythms for speech clinicians and phonetic practice.
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