Segments in this Video

Female Percussionist (05:22)


Barbara Borden has played music all her life; she played with the female jazz band "Alive!" Her sister Marilyn recalls Borden wanting a drum set as a child. See a clip from "She Dares to Drum." Borden's father left when she was eight.

Borden's Early Career (04:32)

Borden recalls her twin sisters performing in Las Vegas. She received her first big drum set at age 10, played in two bands, and moved to San Francisco at age 19. She stopped drumming, took a job in the medical field, got married and divorced, and returned to drumming.

Feminist and Women's Music Movements (07:50)

The movements empowered Borden. She reflects on musical styles; Alive! brought jazz to women's music. Band members reflect on driving in an Econoline van for gigs and the band dismantling; see a clip from a 1995 reunion.

After Alive! (03:17)

Borden joined Nicholas, Glover, and Wray in the 1980s. She and Sheilah Glover made "Lady of the Serpent Skirt"; awareness of goddess culture gave Borden a sense of her roots.

Teaching and World Music (05:39)

Borden began exploring the djembe. Anna Halprin and Borden collaborate on "The Planetary Dance." Borden has been teaching The Redwoods Drummers and others for years; music binds people together.

Drumming Diplomat (03:38)

Naomi Newman and Borden performed for refugee camps and peace groups in Yugoslavia during the Bosnian War. Music can create a space of peace, as it did for Ishmael Beah.

Drumming Lineage (02:46)

Borden studied with Mandaza Kandemwa in Africa; they did many rituals and drumming dance sessions. Borden bought a drum for Kandemwa's community.

Collaboration and Relationships (04:18)

Newman and Borden collaborated in many ways, including on "She Dares to Drum." Borden became the steward of the heart drum. Students reflect on learning from Borden; she likes to teach in natural settings.

Khakassia, Siberia (04:32)

Spending time in Siberia and with shaman Tatiana Kobezhikova was a life altering experience for Borden.

Sacred Suquamish Instrument (03:18)

Borden met Susie Hawk at a drum camp for women and decided the heart drum belonged with her tribal community. Drumming for a spiritual purpose breaks down barriers.

Lotus Belle-Glover (03:22)

Borden helps assemble a drum set for Lotus; Lotus shares her first memory of playing the drums with Borden. Lotus performs in a band at the Sweetwater Music Hall.

Barbara Borden's Hearts on Fire Band (06:58)

Borden, Lotus, and Glover rehearse with band mates for a concert. See portions the concert at 142 Throckmorton Theater.

Credits: Keeper of the Beat: A Woman's Journey into the Heart of Drumming (01:04)

Credits: Keeper of the Beat: A Woman's Journey into the Heart of Drumming

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Keeper of the Beat: A Woman's Journey into the Heart of Drumming 

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This is an award-winning documentary on the life and music of Barbara Borden, an acclaimed and pioneering drummer, composer and teacher. It tells her inspiring life-story in eloquent words and toe-tapping music. Keeper of the Beat weaves footage from She Dares to Drum, Borden’s autobiographical “percussion play” and other dynamic performances from the last four decades with interviews with noted artists, students, family and friends who know Borden and the social history of her times. The film tells the story of a woman whose love of drumming and music gave her courage, inspiration, and the drive to find connectedness within a widening circle of communities throughout the world. We watch the unfolding of Borden’s identity as she grows from a little girl in love with drumming to a pioneering woman drummer, a first-class percussionist, a world musician and a practitioner of “drumbeat diplomacy.” Filmed on four continents, it was produced and directed by three-time Emmy-Award winner, David L. Brown. 

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL146032

ISBN: 978-1-64867-584-3

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

"Good documentaries often introduce audiences to someone they’d love to meet for a nice long conversation in the three-dimensional world. Filmmaker David L. Brown’s Keeper of the Beat is all about one such subject: sexagenarian Barbara Borden, a terrific musician and a joyful, indomitable individual. Borden turned to drumming and percussion at an early age, flying in the face of accepted “wisdom” that girls/women do not play drums. By the 1970s, Borden was playing in jazz bands and likened by critics to legends such as Art Blakey. Happily, there is archival footage that shows her wailing away with a kind of disciplined abandon, as well as visuals tracing later chapters of her career playing in two all-women bands. One of those groups reunites for a feverish performance here that exudes collective passion along with Borden’s personal infectious force. Viewers also see Borden as a teacher and ambassador of drumming; she is a strong believer in the primal exercise of making noise together (as in drum circles) to unite communities. Recommended."—Video Librarian, March/April, 2018

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