Keith Johnson

Percussionist, philosopher and educator Keith Johnson is a master of rhythms from Africa, the African diaspora, the Caribbean and the Americas. He has performed in concerts and schools for more than three decades, using music and storytelling to share traditional African folklore.

Growing up in Washington, DC, Keith was introduced by his parents to music and culture by attending events like the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which exposed him to various African cultures. He subsequently studied or collaborated with many of the world’s master drummers from many musical backgrounds, and he has toured all over the world serving as a goodwill ambassador.

Johnson is also a craftsman of traditional instruments such as blekete drums, shekeres, gourd rattles from Togo, and the 21-string Kora harp. He also fashions traditional African garb such as dashikis, hats and headdresses. In one of his programs for school children, Keith even teaches kids to make their own instruments out of throwaway items from the recycling bin!  

As a performer, Johnson is simply dynamic and endearing, regularly to be found in diverse formats at festivals or festive functions:

  • Sankofa – Keith’s renowned African drummers, dancers and stilt walkers
  • Island Magic – Wouldn’t you know? The man also excels at steel drums, solo or duo.
  • Keith Johnson, drummer – Solo or in groups, Keith’s always open to interactivity!

Based in Phoenix, Arizona, since 1982, Keith Johnson is a beloved local artiste, educator and philosopher – as well as a national treasure – always exuding mirth, wisdom and a spirit of community wherever he goes.

Keith Johnson African Drum


Keith Johnson 

Style: Percussion-based African and world music

Performs: Drum groups of 3 to 6; steel drum duo; solo drums with tracks


Carefree Life (steel drums), 2 other CDs

Samples: Upon request