Tosin Olakanye popularly known as Ayanbinrin (Female Drummer), an award winning Talking Drum player from Nigeria is one of the only women playing the talking drum on the international scene. Indigo Tongues meets up with Ayanbinrin in New York to learn more about her “TradHipTional” music.
Tosin “Ayanbinrin” Olakanye, drummer, dancer, singer and entertainer is a self -proclaimed promoter of African Arts. Her unique brand of TraHiptional-Gbedu (Gbedu means big drum) music infuses yoruba traditional drum sounds with afro hip hop music.
Tosin always had a love for the arts, growing up performing in her church choir. Her dream of being an actress was frowned upon by her parents who saw no value in this career choice for their first born child. They wanted her to study something more “professional” in University. She gave into her parents wishes whilst still exploring her passion of singing and dancing. She realized that if she wanted to launch a sustainable career for herself in the music industry, she needed to be able to distinguish herself from other artists – create an identity that would be unique. During a student strike, which temporarily closed down her university for a while, she learnt to play the talking drum, and the rest is history.
Ayanbinrin, plays her talking drum with a ten-man bad and has managed to carve a niche out for herself in the music industry in Nigeria. Female talking drum players are not very visible on the music scene on the continent as that instrument has been traditionally played by men and has not really crossed over onto the world music scene. Ayanbinrin’s music brings the talking drum and the deep Yoruba sounds into the afrocentric, afroplotain, funky hip- life scene. She is passionate about people of African descent embracing African cultural values which she believes has had a great impact on the wider world.
Ayanbinrin lives in Lagos Nigeria with her husband and children
About the interview
I had been in touch with Ayanbinrin over the years on social media, as she had enquired about the WOCAF Festival. I followed her on social media and was impressed with the style of music she chose to perfect. The more I learnt about her work, I knew she fit the mission of Indigo Tongues which is to showcase trailblazers from Africa and the diaspora. She is at the forefront of promoting African arts, and uses her music and performance style to engage audiences world wide.