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Su Walenta

In-demand session player and live percussionist hailing from her lifelong home of New York City, Su began her musical training early with violin studies at the age of 10. In high school she moved onto 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 Shekere when she received her first gourd from Madelane "Yayo" Nelson in 1995.

--- Babatunde Olatunji ---------Sanga-of-the-Valley ----------Madelane Nelson

Su went on to study shekere, 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).
Note: Photo of Sanga courtesy of EarthBeat.

Fire Spinners at FireDance 2003

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 percussion for Modern Dance, Meditation, Fire Spinning, Magic Shows, and Designer Fashion Shows in New York City, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.

Su understands the power of the drum, and her drum has 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, and many others.

Among Su's instruments: Conga, Shekere, Djembe, Udu, Frame Drum, Jaw Harp, Breath Percussion, Spoons, and almost anything that makes an interesting sound. Her new challenge this year is the lap steel --- which she recently recorded on SkyBear's latest CD.

Above all, she enjoys teaching and playing at sacred gatherings -----grateful for the opportunity to open her vessel 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 open to the ecstatic joys of rhythm.

.....

Su 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 this instrument of transformation. The drum circles Su facilitates have been described as "vital to those who have found rhythm a significant vehicle in the development of the personal transcendent."

----30 Rock NYC ----- Liberty in Scaffold ------ Lizzy the Disney Cover Girl!

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.


------Su on the track-----------Su's vintage 1983 "mint" GPZ550 Kawasaki

Su 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's Dad: Joe Walenta, early 1950's

----Howdy & Buffalo Bob -------Sid Caesar ------Edie Adams & Ernie Kovacs

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 as cameraman, 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.

The Blues Brothers

Su can be reached at <su 'at' suwalentamusic 'dot' com> for private lessons, workshops, classes, performances, studio sessions, charitable causes, and drum circle facilitation.

Please see the "Workshops" page on this website for more information.