Nikki Glaspie '05: One Drummer's Journey

Sian Wittke
July 20, 2012
Alumna Nikki Glaspie '05 speaks to students about her experience in the music industry.
Photo by Sian Wittke

Speaking to a crowd of about 40 musicians in the Steve Heck Room, alumna Nikki Glaspie '05 asked: "Who here is a singer?"

Many hands shot up. 

Next, she asked: "Who here is an instrumental musician?" The same people either put their hands down or tentatively kept them raised.

Glaspie, who later performed at Cafe 939, pointed out that most singers don't consider their voices to be instruments, and that if they don't have something in their hands (like a guitar or drumsticks), they don't think they're really a musician. She challenged this thinking, noting that instruments need proper care and attention, and singers are no exception. 

This point was among the salient advice offered by Glaspie, who returned to Berklee to speak about her success not only as a professional drummer, producer, and arranger, but also as a woman in music. During the luncheon discussion, Glaspie gave students tips on how to survive the music industry as a woman and how to achieve their goals simply by believing in themselves.

"Being a musician is not only something that you do, it's something that you are," she told them, noting it takes a certain mentality and passion to pursue something as complex as music.

Glaspie moved from Maryland to Boston in 2001 to attend Berklee, where she got a strong foundation in theory, ear training, and arranging skills. She also immediately began drumming at Wally's on Mass. Ave., one of the nation's oldest jazz clubs. She credits these gigs with helping her make a name for herself and giving her the performing experience to start playing with renowned artists.

Since then, she has had the privilege of playing with talented artists such as Chaka Kahn, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Destiny's Child. Soon after graduating from Berklee in 2005, Glaspie auditioned for the band that would be traveling with Beyoncé on tour. She talked about the audition process and how surprised she was each time she got called back for a second and third audition. Once she was accepted to the new all-female band, she was more than excited to start touring with Beyoncé in 2007. Now that Glaspie is off the road, she is excited to continue her life as a female musician.