Briah Golder is a percussionist from Indy. She recorded her first album at the age of 16. She is performing at Daptoberfest in Indianapolis at the Edna Martin Christian Center this Saturday, October 14. Besides sharing her gift with her fans, she is helping to teach other young people to embrace their own artistic gifts through a nonprofit called BRAVE. Briah Golder spoke to WFYI’s Ray Steele.
RAY STEELE: Growing up in Indy, why the drums? And when did you start playing?
BRIAH GOLDER: So, I initially actually started on piano. And my parents put me in piano classes at Butler, I was taking lessons there for a while. And my teacher actually caught on to me learning to play by ear. So, I would always ask my teacher, hey, can you play this song for me, and eventually, he would stop playing it because he's like, I know what you're doing. You're trying to learn it by ear instead of reading the music. So, I was like, I don't want to do piano anymore. My father's a pastor, we were in between drummers (at his church). And one day I got on the drum set. I had on a dress, and my legs were wide open with the dress on, and my parents did not want me to play drums at all. But I took a liking to it, a very strong liking to playing drums. It was different. A lot of females did not play drums. That was something that I was not used to seeing. And so, I started playing drums, I dropped the piano completely and started playing drums and I stuck with it. And then my father is also a singer. So, we recorded that first album when I was 16. And it's been my passion ever since.
STEELE: Why do you think it took so long for in percussion for it to come around to where females were quite present in in the drumming world? Because it seems to have taken longer for drums than just about any other instrument.
GOLDER: Absolutely. I think maybe it's just something that we haven't necessarily been exposed to. And so, we weren't very prone to it. I know when people talk about female percussionists, Sheila E. is like really the only name that people put in that category when they think percussion or drums. Sheila E is always the comparison. And so, I am so happy to see a wealth of female percussionists now in this day and age, kind of changing that trajectory for future generations to where hopefully they'll have plenty of females to look up to and see that they're able to do it as well.
STEELE: You leave for college, the University of Alabama. By the way, there's no truth to the rumor that I only booked this interview for that reason. Roll Tide.
GOLDER: Ha ha! Roll Tide!
STEELE: But, you came back home to get a law degree. Why aren't you in a courtroom right now?
GOLDER: Yes. So, I got my law degree. I graduated in 2018. Initially, my plan was to move to New York. And I was going to be a corporate attorney by day and a rock star by night. That was my motto, that was my thing. That is what I desired to do. I went to New York, I took the bar in 2018. I did not pass the bar by like eight points. I missed it by eight points. And so, I moved back here to Indianapolis, and I've been here ever since. I did pass the Indiana bar. However, I am so deeply rooted in my passion, that kind of takes precedent over being a practicing attorney day in and day out. I do eventually want to open a practice where I focus solely on copyrights, trademarks, entertainment law and things like that, to kind of help my fellow entertainers get their paperwork right or make sure they're not signing bad deals, and things of that nature. But I want to keep it all in the entertainment family.
STEELE: Make sure those artists get paid what they are worth.
GOLDER: Exactly. Absolutely.
STEELE: Speaking of artists, you've worked with a lot of budding artists through BRAVE. BRAVE is an acronym. It stands for what?
GOLDER: Bypass Restrictions And Victoriously Excel.
STEELE: Why did you start this? What was the inspiration?
GOLDER: The inspiration was just the fact that a lot of schools are losing their music programs. And the place where BRAVE is housed, we have about six schools within a one-mile radius of the facility. And half of those schools don't have any music classes, any sort of drum line or anything and I think it's very important for youth to have that creative outlet, whether they like to sing, dance, play drums, play any individual instrument. BRAVE is all encompassing of the various performing arts. And so, I just think it's extremely important to cultivate that within the youth so that they can know that they're able to go to a Juilliard or Columbia and really pursue that trade of Performing Arts.
STEELE: What all programs do you have at BRAVE?
GOLDER: Currently we have the drumline program and a dance program. And we'll be launching a music production program in January.
STEELE: Now of course, you're still performing right now. I mentioned you're performing at Daptoberfest this weekend. Sometimes, you perform in support of other artists, but when you're out front, when you're the face, the headliner, or whatever you want to call it, what do we see?
GOLDER: So, when it's just me, you can typically expect my performance to be with a DJ, and the DJ and I kind of bounce off of each other. And we literally create a vibe that is catered solely for our audience. So, whatever we see the audience rocking with, that's the train that will ride for a while, you may see me stand up on the drums. You may see me flip some sticks around, you may see me dance, you may see me singing, I love doing Sheila E’s “Glamorous Life” and just kind of going crazy on that. But it's a lot of drum solos and just interaction with the crowd, a great fun set, where we just get into it.
STEELE: I was a sax player and sang some way back when, but it always seemed to me that the hardest thing (in music) to do is play drums and sing at the same time. Is that just an acquired skill?
GOLDER: I would say so. Of course, the beats and rhythms have to be a little bit simplified when I'm singing, because, you know, you'd have to focus on both. So, one of the distractions is that microphone picking up on the drums as well as my voice. So, trying not to play as loud so that people can hear my voice being projected in the microphone as opposed to the drums. But yeah, I would say that it is an acquired skill, like trying to rub your belly and patch your head at the same time. That multitasking, but it's more simple now than it was when I first started.
Percussionist Briah Golder runs the nonprofit BRAVE. There’s more information at BraveArts.org. And Briah will perform at Daptoberfest on Saturday, October 14. Information on that is at Daptoberfest.com.