While drums are mostly a male-dominated instrument, there are plenty of women who are highly accomplished behind the kit. Whether they’ve been band leaders, social media stars, or highly regarded session players, these women have been kicking butt for years.
Here’s a list of the greatest female drummers of all time.
Anika Nilles is a fantastic example of a modern female drummer who has become a big influence on many. She’s a German drummer who’s well known for incorporating complex subdivisions into her playing.
If you want to listen to quintuplets and septuplets being played in an incredibly musical way, Anika is your girl.
She’s not only a brilliant drummer but a great songwriter too. She writes a lot of the music that she performs. She’s also a regular clinician, so you can catch her performing and giving lessons to crowds around the world. Most of her lessons revolve around musicianship.
Anika Nilles endorses Meinl cymbals, Tama drums, Evans drumheads, and Promark drumsticks.
Madden Klass is one of the youngest female drummers on this list, so she still has a major career ahead of her. However, her skills have brought her to the attention of many people in the music industry.
She’s a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, and she mostly plays progressive styles of music with a bit of pop and hip-hop brought into the mix.
She plays drums for a few established artists, including Space Junk is Forever, Mike Doughty, Wheatus, Allison Ponthier, and Dixie Damelio. Those are some big names, so that just shows you how valued her drumming skills are.
Madden Klass endorses Meinl cymbals, Vic Firth drumsticks, Ludwig drums, Beyerdynamic microphones, and Remo drumheads.
Sarah Thawer is an incredible drummer, and she’s well-known for being extremely expressive while playing. Watching her go through a range of different facial expressions while ripping it on the drums is an experience that everyone should go through.
Her drumming style is very versatile, but one of the most interesting things about her playing is that she draws a lot of influence from traditional Indian rhythms.
She’s played with too many artists to count, and she brings a huge amount of energy to any group of musicians that she plays with. The most notable people she’s played drums with are Jacob Collier, Steve Vai, and Mark Lettieri.
Sarah has regularly been seen using Yamaha drums, Istanbul Agop cymbals, and Remo drumheads.
Taylor Gordon is most widely known as The Pocket Queen, which is her name on Instagram, where she’s most famous. That name perfectly fits her drumming style, as she’s an amazing groove drummer.
Everything she plays tends to serve songs perfectly, which has made her highly sought after as a drummer to play with. She’s played drums for massive artists like Beyoncé and Michelle Williams.
She’s grown into more than just a drummer over the years, becoming a bit of a celebrity herself, but her drumming skills will always be something to marvel at.
Taylor Gordon is commonly seen playing Tama drums, Paiste cymbals, and Evans drumheads.
Cindy Blackman has been one of the most popular female drummers in the world for decades. She’s almost become a jazz drumming great at this point, leading several jazz bands as a bandleader.
However, she’s also played with dozens of funk and pop artists. She has incredible energy behind the drum kit, and her drum solos are always quite intense and engaging to watch.
She’s arguably most popular for being Lenny Kravitz’s drummer for many years. She also plays drums with Carlos Santana, who became her husband after they toured together extensively.
She has been a major influence on female drummers over the years, showing that women are more than capable of making it big as drummers and playing with some of the best musicians in the world.
Cindy Blackman uses Istanbul Agop cymbals, Gretsch drums, DW hardware, and Remo drumheads.
Sheila E. is another household name in the music industry. While she isn’t most well known for being a drummer, she’s an excellent one. She sings and plays percussion more than she plays the drum but watching her let loose on a drum set is an incredible sight.
She played drums for Prince on many of his tours and recording sessions. It was there where a lot of people saw her play for the first time and realized her skills. However, she was already accomplished as a jazz drummer and percussionist before joining up with Prince.
Sheila E plays DW drums,
Taylor Dorothea is commonly known as the godmother of drumming. She has that name due to her age, which is a lot higher than most of the female drummers on this list. She’s an excellent drummer as she has incredible command over technique and rudiments.
She has a marching background, and she brings those elements into her drumming. She’s also an amazing teacher, and you’ll find that she does more teaching than she does playing at this stage in her life.
She’s most active on Instagram, so you can regularly watch her play and give lessons on that platform.
Taylor Dorothea uses Paiste cymbals, Promark drumsticks, Tamburo drums, and Evans drumheads.
Nikki Glaspie is one of the busiest working female drummers in the US. She grew up playing gospel music, but her playing branched out to funk and pop music when she pursued a professional music career.
Her style behind the kit is very powerful. Every note she plays is impactful, and she serves all the songs she plays very well. Her drumming skills brought her to the attention of Beyoncè, who she toured with for a good amount of time. She also has several of her own musical projects where she calls the shots.
Nikkie Glaspie plays Zildjian cymbals, Vater drumsticks, Yamaha drums, and Remo drumheads. All these brands cater very well to her style of drumming.
Senri Kawaguchi is a Japanese drummer who mostly plays jazz and fusion. She’s incredibly talented, and she’s contributed to dozens of studio albums.
While her session musician career is going strong, she’s also a brilliant live performer, and you can find countless videos of her on the Internet playing extensive and creative drum solos. These performances were done at some of the biggest drum and music festivals in the world.
She’s incredibly popular in Japan, but she also spent many years gigging and studying in New York City. When people think about brilliant modern-day female drummers, Senri’s name always comes up.
Senri Kawaguchi plays Yamaha drums, Zildjian cymbals, Evans drumheads, and Vic Firth drumsticks.
Emanuelle Caplette is another drummer who started off on the snare in marching bands. While she still plays snare drum often, she’s a phenomenal drum kit player as well. She has this amazing sense of relaxation behind the drum kit. It always looks like what she’s playing is easy, but it rarely is.
She’s been seen playing drums on multiple TV shows, and she’s toured with several popular pop artists over the years. She’s also a fairly established drum teacher, releasing her own educational book on to buy on her website.
Emanuelle’s drumming style is very refined. Her playing is disciplined, and that clearly comes from her marching background.
She uses Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth drumsticks, Sonor drums, and Evans drumheads.
Nandi Bushell is the youngest female drummer on this list. While she isn’t as experienced as the rest of the drummers I’ve mentioned, she’s undoubtedly one of the most watched female drummers in the world. She has a huge online presence, and it’s all thanks to her energetic playing style.
She first gained recognition by posting drum covers on YouTube, pulling crazy faces, and playing music with proficiency way above her age.
She’s been featured on multiple TV shows, and she’s even performed live with Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters. She has a long and busy music career ahead of her, but it’s amazing to see how much of an impact she’s already made.
Nandi Bushell plays Ludwig drums and Zildjian cymbals.
Jen Ledger plays drums for Skillet, a popular Christian Rock band. The band has been releasing music for most of the 2000s, and Ledger’s drumming is very distinct in all their albums. When they play live, she brings plenty of energy behind the kit, but she sings a lot of lines in the band’s songs as well.
She’s played with a few other acts over the years, but none of them have been as popular as Skillet. She also performs as a frontman in her solo act, and she refers to herself as Ledger. So, you’ll find her only singing at some gigs and not playing the drums.
Jen Ledger plays Pearl drums, Vic Firth sticks, Sabian cymbals, and Evans drumheads.
Karen Carpenter is one of the great names in drumming history. She was one of the first female drummers to be wildly popular, and she was seriously talented. Unfortunately, she died at the young age of 32 due to health issues, but her legacy has lived on. Many female drummers used her as their inspiration to start drumming in the 20th century.
She was part of a band with her brother called The Carpenters. They tracked multiple studio albums, and they also filmed several TV specials. Karen’s work on TV was how she was seen by so many people around the world.
Karen Carpenter played Ludwig drums, the same brand as most other popular drummers at the time.
Kristina Schiano is massively popular on YouTube. She’s been posting drum covers for several years and can play an impressively wide number of musical styles. While some of her drum covers are simple and fun, others are intricate and technical. She nails both types.
In the world of famous YouTube drummers, she was one of the first female drummers to hit wide fame, gaining over a million subscribers and getting hundreds of millions of views across her videos.
While she doesn’t upload as much as she used to on the platform anymore, she’s still a massive inspiration. She’s a busy session drummer, playing drums for multiple artists who hire her to back them on stage and in the recording studio.
Kristina Schiano plays Zildjian cymbals, SJC drums, Zildjian drumsticks, and Remo drumheads.
Hannah Welton is another female drummer that had a run playing drums for Prince. However, she had a fairly successful career before that as well. She studied jazz at university and played in many jazz ensembles.
She shifted focus to rock music later on in her career, jamming with a few rock bands here and there. Her skills were brought to the attention of Prince, and she gained even more fame when drumming as a part of his backing band for a few years.
Hannah Welton is very technically proficient behind the kit, but she also plays with strong energy. That’s what makes her suit rock bands so well.
She plays Gretsch drums, Zildjian cymbals, Gibraltar hardware, and Vic Firth sticks.
Meytal Cohen is another highly popular YouTube drummer. She started posting drum covers in the early days of YouTube, and her drumming skills have just gotten better and better over the years.
The most impressive thing about her is that she does drum covers of very intricate songs. She’s done all the most technical songs from bands like Dream Theater, Tool, Rush, Gojira, and Slipknot.
One of her signature attributes is that she’s always drumming with a big smile on her face, no matter how complex the drum part is that she’s playing.
She also plays drums in her own band called Meytal.
Meytal Cohen plays DW drums, Meinl cymbals, Vic Firth drumsticks, and Evans drumheads.
Terri Lynne Carrington
Terri Lynne Carrington spends most of her time playing and teaching jazz. She’s an excellent jazz drummer, and she’s played with some big names in the industry throughout her drumming career. These include Herbie Hancock, Stan Getz, and Dizzy Gillespie. She’s also been a bandleader for many jazz projects.
She’s won multiple Grammys, showing how talented she is behind the kit and when she makes music. She’s become a household name in the jazz community for both her skills as a drummer and her work as a bandleader.
Terri Lynne Carrington plays Zildjian cymbals, Yamaha drums, and Zildjian drumsticks.
Allison Miller is a proficient drummer who exclusively focuses on playing jazz. She makes a living being involved in the New York jazz scene, and she’s played drums with several popular modern jazz musicians.
She’s also done her fair share of band leading, getting other jazz artists to play songs that she’s written.
Allison’s drumming style leans toward traditional jazz, and most of her influences are iconic jazz drummers from the 20th century. She’s one of the few female drummers on this list that uses traditional grip.
Allison uses Yamaha drums, Evans drumheads, and Zildjian cymbals.
Cora Coleman-Dunham started playing drums in church, and like most young drummers who started in church, she became excellent at playing her instrument. She’s yet another female drummer who played for Prince for a few years.
She could easily be called a gospel drummer, but her drumming skills are too broad to just fit in one box. She’s no stranger to playing fusion tracks in odd time, but she also sounds fantastic when just laying down simple grooves.
Unfortunately, Cora Coleman-Dunham isn’t as well-known as many of the other females on this list, but she’s undoubtedly one of the best, and she deserves a lot more recognition.
She plays Vater drumsticks, DW drums, and Zildjian cymbals.
Meg White isn’t the most technically proficient drummer out there, but her impact as a drummer can’t be understated. She was the drummer for The White Stripes, which was one of the most famous musical duos of the early 2000s.
Meg White started the band with Jack White while she could barely play the drums. Her skills improved over the years, but she always had simple drum parts that served the songs of the band perfectly.
I’ve considered her for this list purely because she was a massive inspiration to female drummers who wanted to get started. Unfortunately, she retired from the music industry and doesn’t perform anymore.
Meg White used Ludwig drums, Zildjian drumsticks, and Paiste cymbals.
Janet Weiss is an established rock drummer who has played for several popular rock bands over her career. She was most well-known for playing drums for Sleater-Kinney, but she departed from the band in 2019. Quasi is another popular band that she plays drums for.
Janet’s drumming style is very hard and energetic. She’s an all-out rock drummer, bringing plenty of force to live shows, along with great showmanship as well.
Janet Weiss plays Ludwig drums, Zildjian cymbals, DW hardware, Remo drumheads, and Silverfox drumsticks.
Samantha Maloney is a rock drummer who got her biggest break when she joined Mötley Crüe for a short stint when Tommy Lee left the band. She’s a hard-hitting drummer who plays with plenty of energy, and she sounded fantastic when playing with the infamous band of the 80s and 90s.
She played drums with other popular artists as well, including Shift, Courtney Love, and Peaches.
She’s not as active in the rock scene as she used to be, but her drumming still lives on in studio albums that she recorded with all the groups she played in.
Samantha Maloney plays DW drums and Zildjian cymbals.
Mercedes Lander is the drummer of the popular all-girl metal band called Kittie. Her drumming is very dynamic and expressive, yet she still adds plenty of energy to metal music.
She was one of the founding members of Kittie, and she’s been part of the group for over two decades. She’s also performed with other metal projects, purely taking the role of singing in a few of them.
Mercedes Lander plays Yamaha drums, Zildjian cymbals, and Evans drumheads.
Domino Santantonio is one of the most popular female drummers in the world at the moment. She’s hit it big on social media, gaining millions of followers across multiple platforms. She specializes in pop drumming, and she brings a lot of energy to all the songs she plays.
She first gained fame by posting drum covers on social media, but she’s established herself as a strong teacher and session musician. She has a long career ahead of her, but the impact she’s already made on the drumming community is quite significant.
Domino plays Ludwig drums, Paiste cymbals, and Vic Firth drumsticks.
Bianca Richardson is a fantastic modern drummer. She has incredible skills and technique behind the kit, but she’s most well-known for how well she utilizes the Roland SPD-SX sampling pad. Her work incorporating electronics into her playing is amazing to watch.
All her videos on social media show her demonstrating the capabilities of sampling pads when used with acoustic drums. They’re very creative and engaging to watch.
Bianca Richardson plays Tama drums and Paiste cymbals.
Jessica Burdeaux is another female drummer that gained a significant amount of fame through posting videos on social media. She’s an amazing player and writes a lot of her own songs as well.
Her drumming is both technical and very musical. She pulls out grooves and fills that make many people listen in awe.
She mainly drums for City Mouth and Naia Izumi, but she’s done several collaborations with different musicians over the years. She’s even sat in with the band on the Seth Meyers show.
Jessica Burdeaux plays Ludwig drums, Vic Firth drumsticks, and Zildjian cymbals.
Brooke Colucci is an amazing rock drummer. She gets a lot of her influence from heavy bands like Godsmack, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath.
Her drumming style is very relaxed, yet she brings plenty of power to the mix. She also plays complex patterns surprisingly cleanly. She’s played with various rock bands on the live stage, but she’s another female drummer on this list that has a promising and booming career ahead of her.
Brooke Colucci plays Meinl cymbals, Vater drumsticks, and Evans drumheads.
Camellia Akhamie Kies
Camellia Akhamie Kies is an excellent drummer and percussionist. She has an excellent command of African rhythms, and she incorporates a lot of them into her drumming.
She served as a drummer in the navy for several years, and she played a lot of jazz throughout that time. However, her drumming skills are very versatile, and she can play a wide number of styles very well.
She mostly goes by the name Akhamie and plays Tama drums and Meinl cymbals.
Tarn Softwhip is a popular YouTube drummer. She has hundreds of drum covers uploaded on the platform, and she performs all of them perfectly. Some songs are very simple and fun, while others are complex and challenging. She nails all of them, showing how good of a drummer she is.
Tarn Softwhip plays Meinl cymbals and Yamaha drums.
Top Female Drummers, Final Thoughts
While all the drummers on this list are incredible at what they do, there are plenty more female drummers around the world who don’t get as much traction. It’s true that drumming is mostly a male-dominated thing, but you shouldn’t underestimate just how good some female drummers are.
All the names I’ve mentioned on this list have done some great things in the music industry. They prove that women rock just as hard as men do.