Drummer, percussionist, composer, sound designer, and music-therapy educator Janelle Burdell is enjoying a diverse and exciting career providing grooves for a bounty of high-profile ventures.
Janelle has worked with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart on Planet Drum and Grateful Dead projects, as well as assisting Hart for Tupac Shakur’s historic last film, Gang Related. Her beats have been heard on Broadway during her tenure in the pit for Little Shop of Horrors and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. She is also the principle percussionist with the Global Net Orchestra, the brainchild of Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Science department.
She has backed up stars such as Aretha Franklin, Billy Porter, the Shirelles, Herbie Hancock, Sammy Hagar, Zakir Hussain, Giovanni Hidalgo, Futureman, Ferron, Charlie Musselwhite, Christine Ohlman, Vicki Genfan, and June and Jean Millington of Fanny.
In her educational and outreach work, Janelle founded a non-profit, Rhythm Games, to promote research on the benefits of music as a path to healing. She also served as adjunct faculty in the Music Therapy department at Duquesne University, and created the program Drum Journey in collaboration with the Neighborhood Academy and experienced counselors.
Her percussion and music-therapy seminars have been presented at colleges across the country, including Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, Sonoma State University, Slippery Rock University, and Soka University.
Janelle fell in love with the Udu drum in the ’90s, and was drawn to the instrument’s possibilities for composition and therapy. Her upcoming release as Udugirl is a culmination of her work with drumming, rhythm, trance, and healing.