Su is a highly respected, in-demand session player and live percussionist hailing from her lifelong home of New York City, She began her musical training early with violin studies at the age of 10. In high school she moved to guitar, and while finishing her Architectural Degree she gained some dexterity with the 5-string banjo. Su fell in love with the Djembe around 1990, when she was initiated into African poly-rhythm by Sanga-of-the-Valley (One of Olatunji's lead players). And blossomed into Sekere when she received her first gourd from Madelane "Yayo" Nelson in 1995.
Su went on to study sekere, djembe and conga with many wonderful and gifted teachers through the years. Among them: Babatunde Olatunji (Drums of Passion), Madelane "Yayo" Nelson (Women of the Calabash), Joe Barnes, De Papa Ladji Camara, M'Bemba Bangoura, Mamady Keita, and Michael Markus (Magbana).
Su enjoys finding ways to weave traditional percussive instruments into varied genres of music, and has played in Blues, Rock, Goth, Folk, Jazz, as well as traditional African Ensembles and Spiritual Gatherings. She has provided her artistry in percussion for Modern Dance, Meditation, Healing Sound Baths, Fire Spinning, Yoga Classes, Magic Shows, and Designer Fashion Shows in New York City, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.
Su understands the power of sacred rhythm, and her beloved instruments have brought her to moving experiences such as: Opening for Deepak Chopra (centering and providing focus for over 2500 people), Performing with the CityDance Ensemble at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC (to support families of 9/11 casualties), and Playing at "Bushstock" (... better known as Camp Casey in Crawford Texas, to support Cindy Sheehan and Peace House).
Su has recorded and performed with gifted and talented artists including Guy Forsyth, Wendy Colonna, Carolyn Wonderland, Lauri Cagno, Scott Williams (aka: SkyBear), Jeff McBride, Jiva Luna, Ghandharva, Papa Mali, George DeVore, Seth Walker, Aaron Neville, and many others.
Among Su's instruments: Conga, Sekere, Djembe, Udu, Frame Drum, Jaw Harp, Breath Percussion, Spoons, Drum Kit, Berimbau, and almost anything that makes an interesting sound.
Above all, she enjoys teaching and playing at sacred gatherings -----grateful for the opportunity to open herself and her instruments to the divine movement of Spirit. Su is committed to sharing what she has learned from these amazing people and profound experiences, and helps players of all levels improve their form, avoid injuries, and allow themselves to expereince the ecstatic joy and healing power of rhythm.
found the drum and rhythm to be a pivotal tool in her personal spiritual
work. Making rhythm available and accessible to those who seek it as
a spiritual expression has become an important part of her current work
with these instruments of transformation.
Among her many talents, Su is also an Architectural Designer, Graphic Artist, Photographer, Painter, Potter, Motorcyclist, and Dog Trainer. During her Architectural career Su worked for NBC managing major renovations to 30 Rockerfeller Center. Her knowledge and love for Architectural History, her technical ability, and her abilities with CADD, led her to work on the Statue of Liberty Restoration Project. Her graphic works have won national and international awards www.newexpression.com, and her beloved Border Collies have worked for Disney Productions, and appeared on television numerous times.
has also enjoyed the challenge of motorcycle racing school, and has
studied with Reg & Jason Pridmore at Loudon New Hampshire, Watkin's
Glen NY, and Pocono Raceway PA.
Su and her brother Charlie grew up seeing top quality live entertainment up close --- Dad (Joe Walenta) worked for NBC for over 40 years...beginning his career with camera, lighting, and sound - covering all technical engineering aspects of live broadcast television for "Howdy-Doody," "Sid Caesar's Show of Shows," "Ernie Kovacs Show", "Your Hit Parade," "The Tonight Show," "Thanksgiving Day Parade," and more..... He retired after working as senior technical engineer for the first 9 years of "Saturday Night Live." Joe was called into that project as one of the few technical engineers left at NBC who had real experience with live entertainment television. Su enjoyed her frequent visits to SNL during her college years, where she gained her deep respect and love for live music, comedy, political satire, and performance art. Su has deep respect for, and understanding of, the dedication, creativity, and hard work required to create a truly professional performance.
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