Carolyn Brandy is a percussionist, composer, performer, educator, and cultural worker. She started playing the conga drums in 1968, and is a pioneer in opening doors for women in the traditionally male world of percussion.
Carolyn has played with many great artists in the Bay Area; was a long time member of the faculty at Jazz Camp West, & the California Jazz Conservatory; is an adjunct professor at CIIS, as well as having taught for many years in the Berkeley and Oakland school system, and San Quentin penitentiary. She was one of the founders of the all women jazz quintet, Alive!, and also the founder of Sistah Boom, Women Drummers International, and the percussion/vocal group Ojalá which was invited to, and performed at the Festival Del Caribe in Santiago de Cuba in 2014.
She is the founder of the non-profit organization, Women Drummers International, and is the producer of the Born To Drum Camp for women, which was created to inspire and empower women students, teachers and performers of hand percussion. The camps have been overwhelmingly successful, and have been produced from 2006-2020.
Carolyn has been a student of Cuban folkloric music for over 45 years. She is an expert in the folkloric drumming styles found throughout the island of Cuba. She led six successful cultural tours to the Island of Cuba to study Folkloric music from 1998-2011. She organized workshops in Havana, Matanzas, Jovellanos, Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Santiago De Cuba, Guantanamo, and Baracoa where her groups studied with masters of Afro-Cuban drumming and dance.
She has been a practitioner of the Yoruba-based Cuban religion, Regla de Ocha, also known as Santeria, since 1976. She was initiated as a priest of the religion in Havana, Cuba by Amelita Pedroso in 2000.
Carolyn also has a degree in music from Holy Names University in Oakland.