Kahlil Cummings, a Los Angeles native, is an acclaimed drummer, exceptional performer, composer, and educator. Kahlil was recognized as a child prodigy very early; since childhood, he has played with numerous reputable groups including Ballet Folclórico Do Brasil, Sona Sané, Abalayé, Mila Samba School, Inu Olorun, Debbie Allen Dance Company, Les Amazones, and Viver Brasil. Kahlil honed his rhythmic gifts with noted teachers including Mestre Amen Santo, Jose Ricardo Sousa, Kobla Ladzekpo, Esteban “Cha Cha” Bacallao (Ibae), and Sandy Perez. His studies in Guinea, Brazil and Cuba have helped to widely broaden his knowledge and musical strength. However, he is most profoundly influenced by West African master drummer Mamady Keita, with whom he has studied since the age of 13. Kahlil helped start the group Balandugu Kan, which was sanctioned by Keita as representing “the voice of Balandugu”--- the village where Keita was born. His compositions can be heard on his debut album Iniké Baba, recorded live in Guinea, West Africa.
Kahlil was the musical director for opening numbers for both the NAACP Image Awards and the Choreographers Awards in 2004. Since then, he has performed with several renowned artists such as Janelle Monae (American Idol), Shakira (music video “Waka Waka), and R. Kelly. He recently recorded percussion for Aloe Blacc in a song titled “Let the Games Begin,” which was featured in the movie “Race.” In addition, Kahlil performed with Pharrell Williams and Kendrick Lamar in the 2015 and 2016 Grammy Awards, respectively. His prolific abilities have even taken him as far as Japan, where he produced and recorded music for Takarazuka, an elite Japanese theater ensemble, and for Pomba, a well-known fitness company.
Currently Kahlil plays and tours with international recording artist Rocky Dawuni, and can be heard on the album “Branches of the Same Tree,” which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album of the Year in 2016. He is now the musical director for Viver Brasil, Los Angeles’s premier Afro-Brazilian dance company. His latest musical project, Capofresh, a hypnotic blend of West African, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and hip-hop rhythms fused with an LA sound is due out later this year.
Photographer: Gia Trovela
Musician: Kahlil Cummings