Nikki Glaspie

Class of

Nikki Glaspie, who traveled the world as the drummer in superstar Beyoncé's all-woman backup band, has honed a clear vision of herself and others as musicians. She credits her years at Berklee, from which she graduated in 2005, and performing in Boston in leading her to that vision. When she returned to Berklee in 2012 to speak about her success as a professional drummer, producer, and arranger, she explained, "Being a musician is not only something that you do, it's something that you are." She added that it takes discipline and dedication to pursue something as complex as music.

Glaspie was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, and was encouraged by a preacher who saw her drumming in church. She attended a Percussion Weekend summer program at Berklee and later enrolled. Some of the teachers she has cited as helping her the most include Angelamia Bachemin; Berklee guitar professor David Fiuczinski, and her musical hero Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez.

Glaspie’s years at Berklee were not only filled with learning rhythm, ear training, and arranging but also with drumming at Wally’s, the oldest continually operating jazz club in the country, located in Boston's South End. This grounding in theory and performance helped launch Glaspie after graduation into a career that included playing with such artists as Chaka Kahn, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Destiny's Child. After several rounds of auditions for the Beyoncé backup band, she started touring with her in 2007, a five-year stint that included travel around the world as well as the United States. After deciding to leave the band, she set out on her own with her funk, jazz, and soul group, Nth Power, based in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Visualization, or “the power to see something and want it and go and get it,” is very important to Glaspie and her life as a woman in music. “When you say you can’t, you can’t, because you said that you couldn’t.”