BoomShake draws on the knowledge and traditions of participants to make music for creative expression, cultural survival, community building and social justice. We came to get free! BOOM! We take it to the streets! SHAKE! For Freedom & Peace! BOOM! Drummers bring the heat! BOOMSHAKE.
BoomShake offers classes, creates performances, and shows up to provide support at social justice rallies, demonstrations and events. They are committed to being accessible to communities of color, people of diverse backgrounds, experiences and abilities by providing affordable and sliding-scale music classes and events. The BoomShake leadership consists of:
An Oakland native, Monica Hastings-Smith is a performer and teacher, and is part of a long line of local, community music and dance movements (Fogo Na Roupa, Samba Funk! & BoomShake Music). She continues to be the student of culture and sounds of African-rooted Carnaval and street celebration. The current and historic experiences of the African Diaspora are her constant musical companions.
Monica is a member of several bands (Funkternal, Everyday Party) and a solo performer, playing a variety of styles for a variety of audiences. She serves as a songwriter, arranger, rhythm guitarist, lead singer, percussionist and all around merry-maker. Loyal to community, she consistently shows up in the streets, at festivals, on stage, in the parks, and at celebrations to make music, joy and healing vibrations. Currently Monica is working on releasing a children’s music album with original songs.
Sarah Norr is a musician and community organizer who's lived in the Bay Area since age six - and has over a dozen years of leadership experience in local social justice and arts organizations. She began studying piano at age seven and guitar at 15, and has played and taught a variety of percussion instruments for the past 15 years. In 2005, Sarah joined the Brass Liberation Orchestra, a street band that provides music for Bay Area protests and community events. Through her work with the BLO, she played percussion for and with countless groups of immigrants, low-wage workers, students, families, and congregations.
In 2014, Sarah co-founded BoomShake Music with Nkeiruka Oruche, with the goal of integrating her interests in music and community empowerment. Through BoomShake, she has taught dozens of street drumming workshops for women, trans people, preschoolers, school-age children, and teen girls; these classes aim to give participants tools to explore and express their cultural traditions, their own creative visions, and their communities’ struggles. She has co-directed and coordinated BoomShake’s community events and ticketed performances, and taught everywhere from university classrooms to picket lines. She works with a variety of organizational partners to present community music workshops, including Lotus Bloom, Manzanita SEED Elementary School, Malcolm X Elementary School, UNITE HERE Local 2850 (hotel and restaurant workers), SEIU-USWW (janitors), Girls Rock Comp, and Our Family Coalition. She also leads finance, grant-writing, program administration, and equipment maintenance for BoomShake Music.
A Nigerian of Igbo descent, Nkeiruka Oruche is a dancer and performer whose specialty and training lies in authentic urban African culture, as well as traditional Igbo dance and music, and reinforced by dance and music education in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. She has produced and directed several local productions that speak to the intersections of culture, personal identity and sociopolitical issues. In 2016, she directed “Til’ Dance Do Us Part,” a tongue-in-cheek dance-theater piece narrating urban African life stages, love and coming of age, and incorporating a soundtrack of Afrobeats, Azonto, Turf, Second-Line, Dancehall, and Soukous, delivered against a sociohistorical narrative of colonialism, racism and Black empowerment.
Oruche’s performing arts and community-building background is reinforced by substantial experience in performing arts production and education, cultural empowerment and social justice obtained from working with Amara Tabor-Smith, University of California-Merced, Our Family Coalition, Stern Grove Festival, Mario Pam (of Ilê Aiyê), John Santos, Loco Bloco, Youth Speaks, Dance Mission, Oakland Museum of California, Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco and the Brass Liberation Orchestra. Currently, Oruche is focused on expanding and sustaining the concept of grassroots change-making and community resiliency through the production, performance and embodiment of art and culture. She is a co-founder of BoomShake, and the artistic director of Afro Urban Society, a meeting place for urban African art, culture and people.