As you lose yourself in the rhythm, the walls of the
Michigan Theater reverberate with the rich thunderous drumming and
beautiful beats of Les Rosettes. The atmosphere is energized as
Doudou N’Diaye Rose steps on stage and provides new rhythm
and yet more power to the theater. All the way from Senegal, the
ensemble has traveled far and delivers on an unspoken promise to
make its nation proud.
Rose leads the group with his baton and energizing stage
presence. Now a 74-year-old drumming sensation, he started to play,
against his father’s wishes, when he was nine. Eventually
Rose decided to make a career out of it, something that created a
rift between father and son for years.
Touted as the most talented drummer in Senegal, and one of the
most famous in the world, he has invented more than 500 new
rhythms, utilizing African percussion while mastering the
Senegalese Sabar style of drumming. He has also worked with
notables like the Rolling Stones, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.
“He is always searching for new rhythm. He mixes traditional
rhythm with his own ideas,” stated Stephan Brunet,
Rose’s representing agent for the last 15 years.
In the late ’70s, Rose formed a revolutionary female
percussion group comprised of his daughters and granddaughters
after realizing the rarity of female Senegalese drummers. The
members of Les Rosettes are enthusiastic to show their equality to
their male counterparts. They take pride in the quality of their
performances and in displaying Senegalese culture. Brunet stressed
that, “The Senegalese style of drumming is very unique.
(It’s) a deep dive into the African culture and Senegalese
culture in particular.”
“They are going to wear gorgeous costumes full of color,
(and) they are going to dance, sing and enjoy themselves,”
says Brunet of the performance and its 20 female musicians. They
toured the United States and Ann Arbor in 2000 and have returned to
delight audiences again. Describing the way everything on stage
comes together, Brunet said, “It is just a great moment for
everyone involved.” He also added about the audience,
“You feel the people really forget all of the little everyday
To highlight the revolutionary role of Les Rosettes, the
University is holding a symposium about the women, their drumming
and the African Diaspora in the Michigan League’s Vandenberg
Room Tuesday at 4 p.m. It will feature the Rosettes and other
speakers, and is free to the public.