“As someone who teaches, I see how drumming is very therapeutic for at-risk youth.”
Kelly Parker has been creating her own path in life since she first learned to read at three years old. Following her mother’s passing when Kelly was a toddler, she moved from Virginia to Washington, Pa. to live with her grandmother. She found that reading and drawing were therapeutic in that transition, and gave her a sense of mastery of her life. “Learning to read that young was a gift from my mother.”
Since then, Kelly has taught herself to play the drums, to make drums and cymbals, to sculpt jewelry and to crochet — fine arts that she has turned into her life’s work, while sharing them with others in the community. She has sold her jewelry and other wares at the Ujamaa Retail Boutique in the Hill District, part of the Ujamaa collective for women entrepreneurs and artisans of African descent. She has also taught drumming to at-risk youth in Pittsburgh-area schools. “Drumming is very therapeutic for at-risk youth. It has a way of calming them down and teaching them how to work in rhythm with others.”
Her talents have helped to keep others in rhythm as well. Kelly has repaired the Chinese drum so key to the rowing crew for a Three Rivers Rowing Dragon Boat racing team. She also plays drums periodically with Brazilian vocalist Kenia Acioly as well as in the Abafasi drumming trio and with her acoustic trio, KEPFLOW.
Kelly and her partner are motorcycle enthusiasts and regularly ride with Women on Wheels. They also and enjoy walking their dog, DIO in the Bernard Dog Park in Lawrenceville and Frick Park.