We had the good fortune of connecting with Dee Simone and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dee, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think of Risk Taking as a Leap of Faith and stepping out of your comfort zone.
Back in 2010 I decided to make a BIG decision by relocating to LA for school. Taking this risk to leave my hometown gave me a fresh start to follow my dreams. Living out my dreams isn’t always easy but my faith and trust in God helped change my perspective on life. Though it’s not always easy, my faith in God & change of perspective on life has opened opportunities to play drums across the country & on TV with different artist.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
There was always music playing around the house as a kid. My parents would listen to every style of music. From Anita Baker, Nina Simone, Hezekiah Walker, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and Rachelle Farrell just to name a few
My Dad has told me stories of me beating on walls, tables, pots/pans, and even trying to make a little drum set out of a toy clean up set as a baby.
Then growing up in church as a young kid my eyes were always locked on the band. Especially the drummer. I liked seeing how excited they were just to play.
I remember around the age of the 13, a co-worker of my Dad threw a Labor Day weekend pool party at his house. In one of the rooms there was remo drum-kit. I asked if I could play, and the first drum beat of a song that came to mind was Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. As soon as I started playing my heart started racing. I actually gained an audience that day which was super shocking as well. The following weekend that same remo drumkit was at my house. After my dad watched me play at the party he saw the potential and went with his gut!
My last two years of high school wasn’t the best because my mind was always focused on music and playing drums. I entered a few local contest and after school program events just to play on a kit.
Around the age of 19/20 I told my parents that I wanted to attend Berklee College of music in Boston. They sent me there for an audition and interview, that went well. Berklee offered me a scholarship to attend for the fall semester. My parents wanted me to go to community college first before attending Berklee. However, I did not agree with my parents and life thereafter got hectic.
Between the age of 20-22, I made horrible decisions with my life and did not take music serious. I remember working at Starbucks and staying connected to a regular customers. We talked about music and life. I told her about me possibly attending Berklee but it wasn’t the right time and that I wanted to stay in my hometown. She told me that even with not attending berklee that I should not give up on music and to make better decisions.
By 23, it finally clicked to me that I needed to take my dreams of being a musician serious. My parents we’re finally recognizing that this was what I really wanted to do. So I applied to attend Musicians Institute (MI) in Hollywood. By getting accepted to MI, my parents were supportive of my next move. I learned how to READ music, grow as a drummer, network, and how to prepare for the REAL WORLD. A huge shout to my private drum instructor Fred Dinkins on teaching me about certain things in life, music, and opening up my ears.
After I graduated in 2012, I started playing for Greater Zion Church Family. My pastor Michael Fisher has been a huge help in my life. I’ve learned so much about who GOD IS as an individual. I remember the summer of 2012 our youth pastor Oscar Duncan was killed, with that loss I learned to not take life for granted. I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ and it was the BEST decision that I ever made. TMy brothers LJ and Chidi, two influential musicians in my life, took over as new musical directors the following year. They help me improve my musicianship & also grow as a person.
In 2015, I auditioned an all-female Smooth Jazz band called Jazz In Pink. The leader, Gail Jhonson, & other original members were blown away by the audition. Original members, Robin Bramlett, Karen, & Darlene are like big sisters that taught me the do’s & don’ts in the music industry. I’ve been blessed to tour and play with them around world. My most memorable performance was at Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl in 2019. Playing for both Greater Zion and Jazz In Pink has opened up more opportunities to expand my artistry. Also in 2019, I played for Jayla Darden, Maysa, Nils, and Katie Kadan on NBC’s The Voice.
In 2020, the pandemic affected me, like most musicians, by canceling my entire schedule and created more obstacles. With the creation of the vaccine and the world starting to open back up, I’ve had the pleasure of playing with artist such as Brassroots District, Madame Gandhi, Moorea Moore, Felsmere, and recently with Alison Wonderland at Lollapalooza.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A few of my Eastcoast friends like to come and visit LA for the music scene and to network, the beaches, and of course the food.
The music scene is now starting to open back up. A few spots to check out for music are The Mint, Spaghettini’s, The Juice Joint, Leimert Park area, The Federal, just to name a few.
Some of my favorite food spots in LA are Hiccups, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, Boiling Crab, Cactus, Noho Ramen, and Norms.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate this interview to my family who has always been my biggest influence, help, and supporters. We have recently had to deal with a life changing situation. All though the circumstances are challenging, I thank God for bringing us back together! Mom and Dad, I hope that I am making you guys proud. I love you both dearly. Thank you for all the wisdom and the daily life lessons. Auntie Helen, you are so strong and very inspiring. To my grandma Norma thank you for always pouring into me. Your wisdom is one of a kind. To my grandma Frenchie thank you for always staying on me about handling my business and thank you for always helping me.
I would also like to dedicate this interview to my one and only blood sister. Nicole , I love you. I’m grateful for you. I know I can be very stubborn but, I thank you for never giving up on me. You are a for real FIGHTER! You show me everyday how to be strong. I know that you’re not in a condition to physically talk right now but when that day comes it’s going to be an amazing day and journey!
I’m grateful to have GOOD people in my corner who tell me the truth. These few people have definitely helped sharpen my gift, my better attitude, way of thinking, and most definitely my emotions. Ledaris Jones, Chidi Olunkwa, Michael Fisher, Robin Bramlett, Gail Johnson, Darlene Moreno, Sanna Erixon, Tiffany Lloyd, Dana Farmer, Kayla Hall, Tressie Collier, Sonseraye Anderson, Ronald Bruner Sr., Jasmine Hunt, and Dominnique Green- Jackson. I thank God for you all. LOVE YOU 💙
Shout out to my fellow friends/drummers who are always on the grind. Michel’Le Baptist, Aisha Gaillard, Krystal Smith, Glory Yard, Whitney Seller, Angel Knotts, Bianca Richardson, Jaleacia “Queen Drums” Harris, Tiffany Walker, Brandi Singleton, Brandon Akinyele, Demetris Champ, Vanessa Domonique, DeArcus Curry, Jacori “Tay” Robinson, Tayjeona Ricks, Davonte Harris, Chesley “Cheese” Allen, Deshaun Allen, J Latoiya Hester, Andre Montgomery, Wayne Matthews, Taylor Gordon, Fer Fuentes, Tony Moore, and a few others that I missed. We may not talk everyday but you all are very inspiring.
Lastly , thank you Tatiana Tate for giving me this interview opportunity. You are the sound of the next generation. The future for you is definitely BRIGHT! Keep shining.
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