Leah Bowden is a drummer and percussionist from the San Francisco Bay Area. She currently resides in San Diego, CA.
She is the drummer and president of the board at Voices of Our City Choir, an organization that brings together professional musicians and people experiencing homelessness. Founded in 2016, Voices of Our City Choir was created in response to the current housing crisis in San Diego. The choir serves as a space for mutual aid and community building, as well as giving voice to San Diego’s homeless community, past and present. The choir has appeared on KPBS, NPR, PBS Newshour, and San Diego Union Tribune and more. The story of the choir was recently filmed for an upcoming documentary by noted filmmaker Susan Polis Schutz. “The Homeless Chorus Speaks” is set to air on PBS in Spring 2018.
Leah Bowden is currently a Candidate for the Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of California, San Diego. Her dissertation, “The Music and the Message of M’Boom,” explores percussion ensemble music that Max Roach, Joe Chambers, Warren Smith and several others composed in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement. She argues that M’Boom found compelling ways to encode messages about diversity, radical inclusiveness and solidarity into sound but were limited by a failure to address gender inequalities in the overlapping scenes of jazz, contemporary percussion and world music.
She is the founder and artistic director of El Otro Lado, an international percussion ensemble (USA-Mexico). In 2017, El Otro Lado recorded a live album of new arrangements of music written by the members of M’Boom. El Otro Lado ensemble reimagined this historically resonant body of music, and applied its vision to a contemporary context– a space of friendship, solidarity and resistance in the USA/ Mexico border region in the era of Trump.
Leah Bowden completed a seven year tenure with UC San Diego’s resident percussion ensemble, red fish blue fish (2010-2017). During this time, she shared the stage with Eighth Blackbird, Bang on a Can All Stars, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Dalai Lama and many others. While at UC San Diego, she also collaborated with composers, improvisors and scholars from around the world to produce and premier an extensive list of chamber works and interdisciplinary projects.
As a freelance artist, Leah Bowden has performed both solo, and in a wide variety of bands/ projects, from popular to experimental music. She has toured and/ or recorded with Man Forever, Aa (BIG A little a), red fish blue fish, William Winant, Francisco Eme, The Red Notes, Tiger Milk Imports, and more. She is currently the drummer for Baby Bushka, a Kate Bush cover band which will tour the West Coast this Spring. She plays Pork Pie Drums.