About Robin “Bountourabi” Leftwich
Robin “Bountourabi” Leftwich has been a student of West African art and culture for over 30 years. Her three trips to Guinea, West Africa have given her a unique and authentic perspective of the role of the djembe in African ceremonies, celebrations, and everyday life.
Robin’s combined experiences and training have allowed her to become known as a very respected and knowledgeable teacher. She has a special talent for sharing the love of the djembe and African culture with students of all levels. In 2010, Robin co-founded Happy Beat Drumming with Rachel Juren. Since that time, they have traveled throughout the Southeast teaching drumming, drum-building, performing, consulting, and providing workshops. Robin is one of the featured instructors at the yearly Community of Sound African Drum and Dance Camp (formerly Kumandi), and enjoys sharing her love of the djembe at women’s retreats such as Bumbada, WomanSpirit, and Southeastern Women’s Rhythm Retreat. Robin has also developed a curriculum for West African Drumming that she has been implementing in the middle school setting.
Robin graduated from Winston-Salem State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and was an exhibiting multidisciplinary artist at Diggs Gallery at WSSU. She has studied in Guinea with Fode Moussa Camara and various teachers from the Gbassikolo Ballet. She has also studied with Aly Camara, Mohammed Decosta, Bolokada Conde, Nansady Keita, Famodou Konate, Mamady Keita, John Scalici, Jim Donovan, Ubaka Hill, Bill Scheidt, and Tom Harris. Additionally, Robin is a graduate of the Therapeutic Drumming Instructor Training Program with Tom Harris.
About Rachel Juren
Rachel Juren has been a student of West African Drumming for 15 years. Robin “Bountourabi” Leftwich was her first teacher and inspiration. Upon co-founding Happy Beat Drumming with Robin, Rachel combined her passions of leadership studies, mental health, and drumming to develop corporate team building and leadership programs that she delivers throughout the southeast. The T.E.A.M (Teambuilding Experience Through African Music) and L.E.A.D (Leadership Experience Through African Drumming) programs deliver exciting, hands-on experiences that explore communication, community, employee wellness, and innovation. Rachel also manages the “pro-bono” side of Happy Beat, which provides a limited number of free drumming experiences to children with special needs, churches, and social groups. Rachel is also a drum-builder and makes dunun shells. She has co-taught with Bountou at women’s retreats such as Bumbada, WomanSpirit, and Southeastern Women’s Rhythm Retreat.
Rachel received both her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and her Master of Justice Administration degrees from Methodist University. She has received additional training in Act for Resilience, Burnout and Suicide Prevention, and Peer Support Techniques. Additionally, Rachel is very involved in Crisis Intervention Training for first responders. Rachel has studied with Robin “Bountourabi” Leftwich, Aly Camara, Bolokada Conde, Nansady Keita, Mohammed Decosta, Jim Donovan, Ubaka Hill, and Bill Scheidt.