From her beginnings as a New York street performer, Blackman’s rising star has been seen by millions of people all over the world performing with her own group as well as providing the percussive backbone for retro funk rocker Lenny Kravitz. She has also appeared on Saturday Night Live, The David Letterman Show, Arsenio Hall, The Tonight Show, the UK’s Top of the Pops, Black Entertainment Television and the 1993 MTV Video Awards. She has recently completed her first drumming instructional video entitled, “Multiplicity”.
Jon Pareles of The New York Times says about her performances with Kravitz, “Cindy Blackman on drums could switch from the splashy, sludgy style of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Mitch Mitchell to the casual economy of Ringo Starr to the crisp repetitions of James Brown’s funky drummers.” Zwerin also says, “...her strength is a variety of texture rather than one particularly evident style. She plays hard softly, aggressive but supportive, distinctive without encroaching.”
A force in her own right, Blackman puts the heart and soul of her music above all else. A true artist, she plays for the moment as if she’s directly inside each note, playing each beat as if it were a melody. Close your eyes and listen. You can imagine that she can harness the power of thunder within her hands. When you open your eyes and watch her perform, you realize that she doesn’t just merely play the drums, she becomes the drums. Her playing is forceful, yet passionate enough to stir the soul. From the syncopated dance of her ride cymbal to the thunder of her snare, her dynamic sensibilities invoke the stylings of her mentor, Art Blakey and source of inspiration, Tony Williams. Her other influences include: Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Thelonius Monk, Max Roach, John Coltrane, Philly Joe Jones, Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, Jack DeJohnette, Pete LaRoca and Billie Holiday.
But drumming isn’t the only venue Blackman takes command of: her skill as a composer on her latest release, In the Now, evokes the spirits of 60’s era Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Her sense of melody and chordal texture equals the passion and fire she brings to her drumming. Yet on “A King Among Men” (a tribute to her hero, Tony Williams) and “Sophia” she offers tender, sophisticated arrangements and sweet, solemn melodies that have the ability to transport the listener to another realm.
Over the years, Blackman has graced the covers of Talking Drum, Drum, the UK publication Rhythm and the Dutch publication Slagwerkkrant. She has also been featured in Modern Drummer, Downbeat and Musician. In 1997, Blackman opened for the legendary Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Soul Brother Number One inscribed on one of her cymbals “To the female king, you’re too awesome to be queen.”
Talking Drum said, “...you can be assured that Ms. Blackman will be around for a long time to come.” She is thunder. She is fire. She is energy. She is passion. She is Cindy
Pictures and Bio from the official Cindy