The Joy of Djembe Drumming Ensemble returns for a special performance in recognition of Black History Month.

Fort Bend County Libraries will present special musical performances of “African Hand-Drumming” in February.

The show will be led by Gregg “Jebada” Powell, founder and director of the Joy of Djembe Drumming Ensemble. Formed in 2013, the ensemble facilitates drum circles, drumming workshops and educational presentations around the city.

Powell will talk about the history of the instruments and the culture of the people who originated Djembe drumming and perform a variety of rhythms to demonstrate the influences of different countries and traditions.

What is Djembe?

Djembe drums

Djembe is one of West Africa’s best-known drums. It’s a goblet-shaped drum traditionally carved from a single piece of African hardwood with animal skin or untreated rawhide as the drumhead.

Some say the name of the Djembe came from the Mendé people during the Malian Empire about 400 to 800 years ago, and means “everyone gather together.” It is said that the drum contains three spirits, the tree from which it was made, the animal whose skin is used as the drumhead, and the carver who assembled the drum.

“A lot of people think it’s just people banging on drums, but there are a lot of different and discrete parts that everyone is playing on each individual drum,” said Powell. “It’s woven together to tell this beautiful story of the strength of our people and history,”

During the performance, the Djembe will begin to play followed by a singer and other instruments. Guests at the event dance to the beat of the songs in a circle.

“One of the things that is amazing about this group is the fact that we’ve taken the time to learn all of the diverse derivatives of West African drumming and music; showing how it has migrated and spread throughout western civilization, even though it isn’t spoken of very much or accredited,” said Powell.

The first performance will take place on Saturday, Feb. 11, beginning at 11:00 a.m., in the Meeting Room of the First Colony Branch Library (2121 Austin Parkway in Sugar Land).

The performance will be repeated on Saturday, Feb. 18, beginning at 10:15 am, in the Meeting Room of the Missouri City Branch Library (1530 Texas Parkway).