15 Greatest Female Drummers Alive

Although drumming is dominated by men and generally, men are more interested in drumming.

 

91% of Drum That followers on Instagram are men.

 

However, many women well deserve their place among the best drummers globally, and I don’t mean just best female drummers.

 

I don’t like to separate music genres, and I firmly believe that there is bad music and good music. The same is with drumming. 

 

There are good and bad drummers. It shouldn’t make a difference whether you are men or women.

 

I wanted to make a list of the best female drummers of the modern age, the women that represent drumming today, but for now, I was only able to come up with 15 of them, and here is why.

 

Internet is flooded with girls playing drums. 

 

Their videos have many views, whether they are playing in tight shorts or drawing attention by just being a woman who plays drums. 

 

In a man dominated industry, seeing a girl behind the kit is always interesting but truth is that many of these “YouTube drummers” are mediocre.

 

In this article, I will not refer to the girls wanting attention but shine a light on the female drummers who have what it takes to be a world renowned drummers.

14 Best Female Drummers List

1. Anika Nilles- Editor's choice

Associated acts: Nevell, Solo Career

Overview

We start our list with the drummer that achieved success in recent years. 

 

Anika was born in Germany and began to play drums at a very young age. 

 

According to her interviews, her father taught her the basics, while she also had an uncle and a cousin who played drums. 

 

Anika started her career on Youtube with the hit songs such as “Wild boy” and “Alter ego”. 

 

Soon after, she achieved international success outside her native country and started to tour Europe and the United States. 

Reason for being on the list

What distinguishes Anika from our other picks are her talent and incredible skills. 

 

Her music is a combination of jazz, funk, and rock rhythms that blends perfectly. 

 

She excels at all types of popular music that we know of. 

 

This is only boosted by the fact that she has a degree in Popular Music. 

What’s she known for

She is the most technically skilled drummer on our list. 

 

Anika is best known for implementing displaced rhythms, odd time signatures, and permutations into her playing. 

 

She also incorporated thuplets, combinations with 5 and 7. 

Anika got the Rising Star award from the Drum! magazine two times, in 2015 and 2016. 

Fun Fact

2. Cindy Blackman

Associated acts: Lenny Kravitz, Santana

Overview

Every list of female drummers and the best drummers overall can’t be good without Cindy Blackman. 

 

Cindy originates from a family of classically trained musicians, and she is no different. 

 

Her love for music started at a very young age, and the drums were love at first sight. 

 

Cindy also went to prominent Berklee College of Music in Boston, a well-known music college in the United States.

 

Alongside her rich solo career, Cindy Blackman has played with the famous Lenny Kravitz

 

Lenny heard her play over the phone and was immediately impressed and asked her to join the band. Her tenure with Lenny Kravitz’s band lasted 18 years.

 

Reason for being on the list

Cindy Blackman fuses her knowledge of jazz music with the aggressive rhythms of hard rock. 

 

It is even more impressive how she plays hard rock when you know her main field of interest is jazz. 

 

Because of that, she is one of the best contemporary drummers out there. 

What’s she known for

She is best known for her iconic sound that can only be described as fusion jazz. 

 

This style is no only fit for jazz bands, but also rock. 

 

As a fusion jazz musician, she plays many unconventional time signatures, groovy rhythms, countermelodies, and extended improvisations. 

Cindy is married to the famous guitarist Carlos Santana. 

Fun Fact

3. Sheila E.

Associated acts: Prince, Cyndi Lauper, Beyonce, Madonna, Ringo Starr

Overview

She comes from a long line of musicians, and many of them were famous such are Alejandro Escovedo, Mario Escovedo, Tito Puente. 

 

Even her father was a renowned percussionist in his lifetime. 

 

She started her solo career in 1984 with the release of her album “The Glamorous Life”. 

 

This career lasts even to this day. 

Reason for being on the list

If you see the list of musicians that she has worked with, you can see why she cracks our list.

 

However, that is not the only reason for her inclusion on this list of the best female drummers. 

 

Sheila E. created her own music style with a mix of jazz, funk, and her Latino roots. 

 

She further incorporated her style into pop music, making her one of the most famous drummers ever. 

What’s she known for

Her unique style is a combination of funk and her Latino roots. She mixes complex groovy rhythms, the syncopation of the first beat to create ‘’danceable music’’. 

 

During her tenure with the Prince, she played repeated rhythms to create the perfect music for a dance floor, but later in the career, she was no stranger to extended improvisations.

Sheila E. suffered an injury because she had a habit of playing in heels. 

Fun Fact

4. Sarah Thawer

Associated acts: AR Rahman, George Watsky, Osman Mir, Mark Lettieri, Jane Bunnett, Charlotte Day Wilson

Overview

Until now, we had veterans with years and years of experience on our list. 

 

Sarah Thawer is a bit different, as she is a reasonably young drummer coming from Toronto, Canada. 

 

Sarah is a young music prodigy because she started playing at the age of 2. She even has a degree in jazz and world music from York University. 

 

She finished school Summa Cum Laude.

Reason for being on the list

Sarah Thawer represents all that world music wants to be. Blend of all world cultures that were unimaginable before. 

 

Thanks to young musicians like Sarah Thawer, we can enjoy new and interesting combinations of music. 

What’s she known for

I can only describe her music with the popular term nowadays, and that is word music. 

 

She combines her rich heritage with jazz roots to create a unique fusion. 

 

Sarah likes to innovate in all fields, such as incorporating atypical percussions such as conga, tumbak, darbuka drums, withodd time signatures.

She had her first live performance at the age of 5. 

Fun Fact

5. Hillary Jones

Associated acts: Doc Severinson, Pete Escovedo, Clarence Clemmons, and The Mamas and The Papas

Overview

In 2020, Hillary Jones made some horrible racist comments on her Facebook page. 

 

Music is love, and in music, there is no place for racism and discrimination. 

 

While I disagree entirely with all racist comments, and the things she has said are beyond horrible, I will judge her solely on her music. 

 

Hillary has worked with numerous musicians throughout her career. 

 

However, her best work is her solo work, especially her debut album “Soaring“.

 

She plays a mix of rock, jazz, and funk, which is only a small part of her talents. 

 

Hillary is also a drum teacher, and she also provides vocals for her music.

Reason for being on the list

Her talent and raw playing skills earned her a spot on our list of the best female drummers. 

 

I just hope that the latest comments are not her real opinion and will make an adequate apology.  

What’s she known for

One thing that easily distinguishes Hillary Jones is her great sense of groove, the phrasing of the 6 and 8, beat displacements, and many more. 

 

These are all complicated techniques that Hillary uses with such ease. 

6. Stefanie Eulinberg

Associated acts: Kid Rock, Twisted Brown Trucker

Overview

Stefanie Eulinberg is the first pure rock and roll drummer on our list. 

 

Her tenure with Kid Rock’s band lasts for more than 20 years. Stefanie’s style blended very well with Kid Rock’s energy. 

 

Hard rock beats and rhythms go well alongside pyrotechnics on their shows and the energy that you feel when they perform live. 

 

Alongside percussions, she also provides backing vocals for the band, which I always find very impressive. 

 

That is a tough thing to do, and it is a true proof of her incredible talent. 

 

Reason for being on the list

Stefanie Eulinberg is a drummer that is hard to describe. Playing drums in a rock and roll band isn’t just about the music. 

 

It is all about the show and the interaction with the audience. 

 

You certainly can feel Stefanie’s energy at Kid Rock’s concert, and that is a hard thing to describe. 

 

You must experience it by yourself. 

What’s she known for

Stefanie’s drumming is simplistic in the right way. 

 

In the early days, she didn’t use many rides and splashes, as Kid Rock hated them. 

 

Later in her career, she played a mixture of hip-hop and hard rock, with a touch of metal. 

7. Nikki Glaspie

Associated acts: Jay-Z, Chaka Khan, Kanye West, Beyonce, Destiny’s Child, Nth Power

Overview

We have another Berklee student on our list. Berklee is a college known in the world as one of the best schools of jazz. 

 

So, it isn’t weird that it has provided many female drummers that we have included on our list. 

 

She has an impressive biography for such a young and upcoming drummer. 

 

Nowadays, she is touring and performing with her band, Nth Power. 

Reason for being on the list

She has the skills of a true Berklee graduate. Her incredible talent and skills are not something you see every day.

 

 Her real power lies in her own words “When you say you can’t, you can’t, because you said that you couldn’t.”

What’s she known for

Nikki Glaspie is a pure RnB drummer in every sense of the way. 

 

She likes to use repeating riffs, slow and mid-tempo playing, and many embellishments in her music. 

 

Her main inspiration apart from RnB is hip-hop and gospel. 

8. Hannah Welton

Associated acts: 3rdeyegirl, Prince

Overview

Every list of the best female drummers in the world can’t go without mentioning Hannah Welton. 

 

She is one of the female drummers with the most experience of them all. 

 

Hannah started playing drums at a very young age in her father’s blues band. After that, she attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts. 

 

So, she is a classically trained drummer. Her husband, Joshua, is also a musician and even plays percussions. 

Reason for being on the list

Her music style is a mix of gospel, funk, and jazz. That style even got its recognition during her tenure with the Prince.

 

Nowadays, she performs with the famous female bass player Ida Nielsen. Her talent and skills earned her a spot on our list.

 

What’s she known for

The main thing I like about Hannah is how she plays hi-hats. She utilizes consistent kicks instead of accented downbeats. 

 

That way, you don’t ghost a non-accented note. She also utilizes a smaller bass drum alongside her main bass.

 

9. Madden Klass

Associated acts: Mike Doughty, Wheatus, Space Junk is forever, Raavi and the Houseplants

Overview

I like when I see new and upcoming drummers that have found success on a scene. Madden Klass is such a drummer. 

 

She is a New York-based female drummer that is classically trained. 

 

And she got a degree at none other than Berklee College of music. 

 

Her style can not be described as classical, however. She mainly got her influences from rock, heavy metal, and hip-hop. 

 

That sounds like a crazy fusion, and it probably is, but it sounds beautiful when you hear her play.

 

Reason for being on the list

Like all of the young drummers, she has her unique style that represents something new in music. 

 

Mike Johnston described Madden Klass on the Modern Drummer podcast: “If I was any musician in the world – not a drummer – that is who I want on the drums for me… she is a great example of a modern drummer.”

 

What’s she known for

Madden likes to experiment with polyrhythms and odd time signatures, and I was most impressed with the ghost notes on her snare drum. 

10. Terri Lyne Carrington

Associated acts: Dizzy Gillespie, Carlos Santana, Clark Terry, Stan Getz

Overview

Terri Lyne Carrington follows the formula of the most jazz musicians on our list. 

 

She was born into a musical family, started playing at a young age, got her degree at Berklee College of Music, and started playing worldwide. 

 

As of today, she works as a music professor in Detroit, Michigan. 

 

Among all these achievements are the three Grammy awards, in 2012, 2014, 2015. Also, we are waiting to see if she will receive it in 2021. 

Reason for being on the list

I can’t tell if she is the best of them. I will leave it for audience to decide, and everyone has their preference. 

 

Nobody can dispute her skills and talent. I can surely say that she is one of the most accomplished jazz drummers ever. 

 

It is enough to look at the list of the musicians that she collaborated with. 

 

Dizzy GillespieCarlos SantanaClark TerryStan Getz. This is already an impressive list, and it is just a start. 

What’s she known for

Terri likes long jazz improvisation and to experiment with the atypical time signatures and displaced rhythms. 

 

She uses a lot of traditional jazz techniques, such as polyrhythms.

Terri Lyne Carrington is the first female artist to win Grammy Award for the Best Jazz Instrumental Album. 

Fun Fact

11. Senri Kawaguchi

Associated acts: Senri’s Super Session

Overview

Although drums are a popular instrument in Japan, Senri Kawaguchi is our only pick on the list. 

 

Nowadays, you can see tons of videos on youtube of Japanese girls playing drums. 

 

I like to see young people take an interest in something I love, but for this list, I tried to include drummers with some experience recording in studio or live. 

 

She started drumming at the age of five when her father bought him the first drums. 

 

When he saw her play, he immediately saw her talent. 

 

After music school, she founded her own band, Senri’s Super Session, and found much success globally. 

Reason for being on the list

Senri Kawaguchi is all that and more. 

 

Being the best female drummer in the land of such talent such as Japan is an accomplishment by itself. 

 

Her style is a mix of jazz and fusion, which is very popular in Japan. Jazz has a solid foothold there, and Senri is one of its best representatives. 

What’s she known for

I can only describe Senri’s style as jazz fusion. 

 

She uses double bass pedals, utilizes polyrhythms, and odd time signatures, but the main thing that sets her apart is the speed and precision with which she plays. 

 

Senri is faster than some metal drummers.

Senri has images of Gecko painted on her drumsticks and bass drum. 

Fun Fact

12. Didi Negron

Associated acts: Cirque du Soleil, Karl Perazzo, Chris Coleman

Overview

I absolutely love drummers such as Didi Negron. The thing I love the most about them is the energy that I can see when they play. 

 

Every musician needs to have that energy when they play the instrument, but sometimes I just love to see the love they can show live. 

 

Not only that, but Didi is also a teacher. She also collaborated with legendary musicians like Karl Perazzo, Chris Coleman. 

 

Her teacher at the Berklee College of Music was none other than Terri Lyne Carrington!

Reason for being on the list

That’s the thing I like about Didi. Even though she plays a blend of different music genres like reggae, gospel, jazz, hip-hop, RnB, you can always see and hear that rock and roll energy coming through. 

 

Don’t miss a chance to see Didi Negron perform live. With her energy and interesting style, she quickly gets a spot on the list. 

What’s she known for

Didi, too likes to experiment in odd time signatures. Apart from that, she likes to play many drum fills and accent the 16th note. 

 

Her style is a mixture of jazz fusion, RnB, and mainly gospel.

13. Emmanuelle Caplette

Associated acts: Circa Zero

Overview

We have yet another drummer from North America, but this time we got a drummer from Quebec. 

Emanuelle started playing at a very young age and had her first gig at the age of 9. From that moment, she is one of Canada’s best female drummers. 

She has even won Provincial Individuals Championship in Quebec 4 times. 

Emmanuelle has a very successful international career as she has toured in North America, Europe, and Asia. 

Although she mainly works as a freelance drummer, she has worked with Andy Summers in his new band Circa Zero.

Reason for being on the list

She is skilled in many genres of music, but her primary preference is pop and jazz. 

 

Also, she is endorsed by Sabian cymbals, Evans drumheads, and Sonor drums. 

What’s she known for

Her main trademark is the use of ghost notes and groove rhythms. 

 

She likes to mix the sound of the edge of her ride with the bell, to create almost like samba grooves. 

 

When you listen to Emanuelle’s music, you will almost hear a whole percussion section of the orchestra. 

Emanuelle Caplette has a Youtube channel with the drum tutorial that can help you get into the world of drumming. 

 

Fun Fact

14. Samantha Maloney

Associated acts: Hole, Eagles of Death Metal, Peaches, Mötley Crüe

Overview

Filling the shoes of not just one but two of the greatest drummers ever is not an easy job. 

Samantha Maloney did just that and rocked the world while doing it.

 

Her tenure with Mötley Crüe is the most famous one, as she replaced Randy Castillo and Tommy Lee

 

Castillo is the most famous for his work with Ozzy Osbourne. Both of them are some of the greatest drummers of all time, in my opinion.

Reason for being on the list

The drummer’s job is not just playing, but providing an exciting live performance that the audience will remember. 

 

Samantha’s tenure with these bands is not long, but it certainly is memorable.

 

Her stage presence is the best I have ever seen out of all these drummers.

What’s she known for

Samantha Maloney is a pure rock and roll drummer, and she showed us that during her time on Mötley. 

 

Her presence on stage is tremendous, and she has unrivalled energy and pure skills.

15. Cora Coleman-Dunham

Associated acts: Beyonce, Prince, Pink, Maceo Parker

Overview

The first time I heard of Cora was almost a decade ago. I watched the Gospel Drum Summit video with her, Aaron Spears, Nisan Stewart, and Gerald Heyward.

You’ve probably watched at least one of those guys playing. The level of their playing is just amazing, and I am not talking about the chops but also the groove, the flow, the dynamic.

Being in that company is a great accomplishment by itself, and Cora should be there. She is a true representative of Gospel, RnB, and Pop music.

Reason for being on the list

Cora is the top level drummer, and that secure her place on this list.
Her playing is clean, groove solid, and dynamic incredible. Her rooster is not falling behind.

I mean Prince, Beyonce, Pink, each of them represents production at a large scale.

If she can satisfy the music industry’s needs on the highest level, she should be included on every “Greatest female drummers” list, not just ours.

What’s she known for

Do you know what the synonym is for gospel drummers?

The “pocket.”

Pocket basically means groove but the juice one. The “juice” comes from triplet feel.

These drummers grow up in the church, playing drums. That’s where the heart and would comes.

Cora is no different; I will only say that her pocket is “deep”.

Things in Consideration while choosing the Drummers

The three main things I have considered while choosing the best female drummers are:

  1. talent
  2. skills
  3. experience

Not every drummer on this list has an insane skill or raw talent. Everyone has its strong and weak points. 

 

Experience is the time you spent playing drums professionally. It can include music school, playing in a band, or freelancing. 

 

This does not equal age as we have drummers that have played for just a few years and have the adult drummer’s experience.

 

Skill is your ability to play at the professional level. Drummers improve their skills while practicing. 

 

Simply, with more practice, the better you become. Every drummer on the list has a very high skill ceiling. 

 

Talent is something you are born with. It is the ability to use those skills and experience and turn them into exciting music.

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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