Frederick “Fred” Simpson


Director, African Drum Ensembles and Artist Teacher of African Drums and Percussion

Certificate, Tam-Tam Mandingue
Extensive studies with: Master Drummer Mamady Keita

Born in San Francisco, raised in Berkeley, CA, Fred Simpson began drumming at an early age on his mother’s pots and pans. At age 20, he was given a small conga drum and began accompanying Modern Dance Classes at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. After a year at UC Santa Cruz, he moved to New York City to accompany Modern Dance Classes at NYU School of the Arts where he met Titos Sompa and joined Tanawa Congolese Dance and Drum Ensemble. While in New York City, he also had the opportunity to work and tour with Arthur Mitchell and Dance Theatre of Harlem. He also performed with Walter Nicks in the American Dance Festival at Connecticut College. After five (5) years there, he returned to the San Francisco Bay area to join Fua Dia Congo under the direction of Malonga Casquelourd and continue drumming for African Dance Classes at Stanford University (including accompanying for Katherine Dunham). Performances with Fua Dia Congo included: The Africans are Coming (Oakland CA), SF Ethnic Dance Festival, Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival and the Kennedy Center (Washington DC). Concurrently, he was a member of Ceedo Sengalese Dance Company, highlights included a performance on an episode of Northern Exposure. He later spent several years working and touring with Mabiba Baegne, master Congolese dancer and drummer. In 1994, he was introduced to and began training with Master drummer Mamady Keita, which included travels to Belgium, France, Germany and Guinea, West Africa. His training with Mamady Keita included certification as Djembefola from Tam Tam Mandingue in 1999. His travels to Guinea, West Africa expanded his training to include drum-making in the traditional way of the Mandingue people. Since moving to Santa Fe in 2000, Mr. Simpson has shared his drumming in community venues of the Haitian/West African Dance class at the Railyard Performance Center & teaching West African drumming. More recent studies include training in bata drumming & Afrocuban rhythms with Ricardo & Romeo Carrido. His career has also included collaborations & performances with dance & drum companies from Brazil, Puerto Rico, Columbia, Trinidad, and Belize. Mr. Simpson has shared his many experiences and life-long trainings with students at various academic institutions including: Stanford University, San Francisco State, University of Utah, and currently the Santa Fe University of Art & Design.

When not in the classroom, Mr. Simpson enjoys developing his passion & expertise for Afrocuban rhythms in the Santa fe trio “Los Primos Melodicos de Santa Fe” and Latin Jazz in The Shades of Tjader.