In recognition of Women’s History Month I want to take a moment to focus on my favorite female drummer Hannah Ford-Welton. I discovered Hannah as a member of Prince’s 3RDEYEGIRL, the legendary artist’s explosive four-piece rock band consisting of Prince and an all-female backing band. Her ability to play with the intelligence and intensity demanded by Prince, immediately caught my attention.
According to her bio: Formerly the drummer and vocalist of the Chicago based rock trio The Hannah Ford Band, the Milwaukee based crossover Christian band, Bellevue Suite, and her one woman inspirational Peace Love & Drums multi-media show, Welton’s versatile performance history covers all styles of music, from pop and rock to jazz. Launching her professional career at age twelve by joining a blues band with her trumpet playing father in the Windy City, she is the only female to win the Louis Bellson Heritage Days Drums Competition (2006).
Besides reading, rudiments, and technical abilities, Ford’s keen eyes and receptive ears are essential to her reactive drum approach. Much of this skill was forged with her four years of study with noted instructor Paul Wertico at Roosevelt University (she also studied with Wertico privately for two years before enrolling.)
Welton’s other regional accolades include being voted “Outstanding Jazz Musician” at Chicago’s New Trier Jazz Festival (2007) and “Outstanding Musician” at Chicago’s Jazz in the Meadows Festival (2007). Welton was named “Best Drummer/Musician” in Suburban Nightlife Magazine’s “Best of the Burbs” readers’ poll in 2008. She was also cast as “L.A. Coulter,” the onstage drummer in the 2011 Chicago Royal George Theater run of the Whoopi Goldberg produced musical “White Noise.”
Another expression of her love for the drums has been Hannah’s enthusiastic support for young drummers. Hannah spends much of her down-time reaching out to others at school assemblies with her “Peace, Love & Drums” multi-media show and giving back to students at drum clinics and summer music camps.
When asked about her feeling about being a female drummer in a male-dominated business she said, “It used to be that telling someone they hit like a girl was a put-down, but after watching the way women like Karen Carpenter, Gina Schock, Sheila E and Cindy Blackman play the drums, I’ll take it as a compliment. After all, what’s better than playing kick-ass drums in a rock ‘n’ roll band, doing what you love… and getting paid for it?”
Here’s an original track called “Women’s Intuition” that Hannah wrote, arranged, and produced with her husband (Prince producer Joshua Welton) for their band Counterculture: