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Drumming Group Liverpool - Drumming Group Liverpool

Katumba Band: A Rhythmic Journey Through 2023

As we bid farewell to 2023, it’s time to reflect on the incredible journey that Katumba Band has undertaken throughout the year.

Thu 28 December, 2023

Katumba Band: A Rhythmic Journey Through 2023

As we bid farewell to 2023, it’s time to reflect on the incredible journey that Katumba Band has undertaken throughout the year.

Thu 28 December, 2023

From mesmerizing performances and new original compositions to impactful community engagements, the past 12 months have been nothing short of extraordinary for our dynamic ensemble.

Join us as we revisit the highlights, milestones, and unforgettable moments that shaped Katumba’s year.


1.    Captivating Performances

From local community events to high-profile festivals, our energetic and rhythmically charged shows brought people together, transcending cultural boundaries and spreading the joy of music and movement.

Throughout the year, Katumba Band brought the spirit of celebration to various festivals and cultural events.

Whether it was contributing to local festivities or participating in international celebrations, our performances were a testament to the power of music in fostering unity and cultural exchange.

The first half of the year saw Katumba Band deliver a series of captivating big sound performances that left audiences in awe.

New original compositions and commissions 

The creative journey continued with the release of new musical compositions and commissions. Katumba Band explored fresh sounds and experimented with innovative rhythms. 

We were thrilled with the results after performing them went so well. We are left with all of us band members eagerly anticipating what the future holds for our evolving musical repertoire! 

Katumba + Eurovision

May brought the Eurovision Song Contest, and a moving showcase to the world of just how effectively Liverpool’s heart can activate to produce the most amazingly diverse and strong programme of arts, music, media and community events.

We were part of the Eurovision experience in a variety of ways, from welcoming the fans at Liverpool Lime Street, to being a key part of the luminescent, iridescent Blue and Yellow Parade by Aquatopiaa.

The Blue and Yellow Parade was one of our new music commissions developed by Co-Founder Ritchie Tunstall, which went down a storm! 

We also performed our new sounds in the studio for BBC Merseyside, and on the streets as part of our regular partners in crime Revolución de Cuba’s Eurovision programme.

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Katumba + Reminisce

Summer saw us raving into the big time, becoming an Arena band with a show-stopping performance of our original works for Reminisce Festival.

Filling the whole of the M&S Bank Arena, our 90’s infused playlist of dreams was another of our new original music commissions, composed by our co-Founder Ritchie Tunstall.

The 90’s vibes are in our blood, and the atmosphere and power of the Katumba sound in an arena sized venue – and the response of the audience – was just beyond. 

An absolutely thrilling experience! 

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Image by Luis Santos

Book the Look – uRaVe

That night we also launched a new aesthetic to add to our collection of Performance Themes – uRaVe!

This cutting-edge aesthetic blends traditional rave culture with modern influences, with in your face neon colours, bold geometric patterns and futuristic vibes.

uRaVe pulsates with energy, a dynamic fusion of music and visual art.

And it goes perfectly with our 90’s mash up drum compositions to bring the party like you would not believe! Everyone gets it. 

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Off Stage at Africa Oye 

In June we played our much-loved favs Africa Oye, eradicating barriers between the music and the audience by bringing the party off the stage and into the crowds.

Of course, our Liverpool audience were 100% game for that and the results fit the dream, with everyone getting involved, up-close and personal.

Many magical moments of intimate audience participation and shared joy were manifested!

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Revo Revolution! 

No round up of our year would be complete without asking the question, how have we had so much fun at Revolución de Cuba Liverpool this year??

Playing at their venues all over the country has been an energising joy each time and we look forward to many more!

The Katumba+Revo partnership is a showcase for what live music can bring to a venue. Whether you are looking for a brilliant night out, or whether you are a venue looking to boost engagement, check it out, if you haven’t already! 

You can keep track of everything on offer at Revo bars nationawide here

Percumon Festival

Percumon Festival is the annual International Afro-Brazilian Percussion Festival that takes place in Sagunto and Puerto de Sagunto, Spain. This year, Katumba brought its own magic to proceedings! 

Get the 2024 date in your diary – time to plan a trip to Spain?

More info on this incredible Afrobrazilian percussion festival here

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Pride Liverpool March 

August brought us another emotional Pride performance. An event close to our heart, this year did not fail to move us.

You can see our video showing Katumba Co-Founder Juliana and Katumba Members discussing Pride’s origins as a protest and why Pride is so important to them here

We’ve given huge focus to making Katumba a genuinely safe, inclusive space this year, the resounding message from us “it’s our Kasa and everybody is welcome and actively so!”

Read on to find out more about our special performance in support of the NHS in the fight against sickle cell disease at Bristol Pride, too. 

Katumba Drumming Band at Pride Liverpool 2023 image credit David Leeke

Image by David Leeke

Katumba Drumming Band perform at Pride Liverpool 2023 image credit Trev Green

Image by Trev Green


Katumba Halloween Parade: The March of the Zonbis

The final BIG performance of the year was in October at our iconic annual Halloween Street Carnival event. 

This year this took the form of a chilling encounter with a horde of drumming ‘Zonbis’ on the streets of Liverpool.  

You can read more about the cultural roots of the Zonbi word and idea here

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Images by Trev Green

Three hour Drumathon fundraiser at the Liverpool Santa Dash for the UNICEF Children of Gaza Appeal 

Despite freezing temperatures and even some beautiful snow, our eighty-plus drumming Santa’s passionately beat their drums for three hours at this year’s Liverpool Santa Dash. 

The Drumathon challenge raised money for UNICEF’s Children of Gaza Crisis Appeal.

The funds raised went to UNICEF to help them deliver vital supplies.

Read more about why we chose UNICEF’s Children of Gaza campaign on our website here

Visit UNICEF’s website here

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Image by David Leeke

Drumming Group Liverpool - Drumming Group Liverpool

Image by Trev Green

2.    Collaborations that Resonated

This year, Katumba Band had the privilege of collaborating with various artists across genres. These partnerships resulted in unique and powerful performances, showcasing the versatility and adaptability of our musicians.

From electronic fusions to traditional collaborations, each project enriched our musical tapestry.

We put enormous value on bringing in guest teachers and facilitators to work with our drummers, complementing our Katumba education programme to teach combined performance art.

These foster positivity and wellbeing, and in many cases give more cultural context to our Afro Brazilian artform.

Wendy Okoli

We kicked off a year of fabulous collabs in January when we welcomed absolute queen Wendy Okoli into the Katumba Culture Hub to deliver a group bonding and #afrodance workshop with a group of our top drummers.

Wendy is a professional dancer, model and actor who we’ve been lucky enough to work with on a number of gigs with Samba Livre Liverpool – of which she’s Co-Director – and Katumba productions including our Halloween festival 2022, where Wendy was part of the Movema tribe.

Check out her insta here

Eleanor Fada

In February we welcomed Eleanor Fada into the Hub to deliver a movement and connection group bonding workshop with some of our Bloco band and newest drummers.

Eleanor brought gorgeous vibrations to our space through elements of capoeira, dance, and a powerful awareness and appreciation of ourselves and each other.

We are so lucky to have worked with Eleanor on a variety of projects in previous years as well, from school workshops and our joint Afro Brazilian inspired event Festaaxé, to carnivals and Katumba productions.

You can find her on insta here

Luiz Fernando Domingos

In March we welcomed the fantastic Luiz Fernando Domingos into the Hub to deliver an inspiring Samba workshop with our group.

Luiz (aka Mikiba) created incredible vibes teaching us some traditional samba grooves. The feelings in the room included connection, passion, and so much love. 

Mikiba has played percussion with professional award winning Baterias in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for over 10 years. 

He has performed with premiership Samba Schools including Escola de Samba Camisa Verde e Branco, Escola de Samba Aguia de Ouro, Escola de Samba Tucuruvi and five-time champions, Mocedade Alegre. 

He also regularly plays with Samba Pagode groups such as Sambox and is currently living in Manchester performing and teaching regularly with our friends and partners Global Grooves. 

You can find out more about Mikiba on the Global Grooves website here


Were you at any of these collaborative workshops? Email us at hello@katumba.co.uk and let us know what you thought! 

Salamandra + Katumba New Costume Collab

This summer we also launched our gorgeous new costume created by independent Brazilian artist, stylist and educator Salamandra. 

We feel this collaboration has resulted in an aesthetic which perfectly expresses Katumba in garment form and we are super delighted. 

It is especially perfect for our new uRaVe aesthetic. 

Check out the work coming out of Salamandra’s studio Casa Das Artes online as a starting point to discovering her world. We think you will agree the work is incredible. 

You can explore more of their work on their Facebook page here and their instagram here 


What’s the verdict? Do you love it as much as we do? 

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Image by David Leeke


3.    Community Outreach, Education, Diversity and Inclusivity

Since we founded Katumba, one of our main pillars has been engagement, inclusion and diversity, and 2023 was no exception. 

Everything we do has been framed in that approach to increase accessibility so more and more people can reap the benefits of what we do. 

We have conducted an independent, earnest and deep interrogation of what that might look like in a genuinely safe and inclusive way. 

So 2023 was ALIVE with different strands embodying and progressing community outreach, education, diversity and inclusivity, from local to city and country-wide, to developing our activities between the UK and Brazil. 

Outreach included – but was not limited to! – performances and workshops with young people and schools, community choirs and band, team building sessions within several organisations including Media City, Liverpool University, the British American Project by former Mayor Joanne Anderson, and our Music and Mindfulness Workshop series for NHS staff across the country.

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Katumba Media City Team Building Workshop

In one treasured example, we delivered a Workshop at Claire’s House at Sibfest, an outdoor festival experience especially laid on for children who have siblings at Claire’s, a hospice that helps seriously and terminally ill children live life to the full and provides support for their families.

Drumming Group Liverpool - Drumming Group Liverpool

Katumba at Sibfest – Claire’s House

Juliana delivered several talks and guest speaker engagements, including sharing her experience as a Brazilian migrant and musician in Liverpool at a panel event on the topic of Port City – The Migration of Musical Heritage, speaking at Liverpool John Moores University’’s Reverse Big Ideas Programme, and delivering a Parade & Choreography masterclass with Penrith’s fabulous community Samba band, Bjamba, in collaboration with Blue Jam Arts.

We also focused heavily on innovative activities to diversify our membership, including holding Safe Space Taster Sessions and creating a video channel specifically for the discussion of issues around this theme. 

Empowering individuals through rhythm, we inspired a new generation of musicians and strengthened our bonds with communities near and far. 

Here’s some of those in more detail. 

Katumba + African Caribbean Centre + Asylum Link Merseyside Beat It sessions

In July we responded to what our community requested and re-introduced the Beat It Drumming and Movement Sessions specifically aimed at beginners and centred around wellbeing, in partnership with the African Caribbean Centre and Asylum Link Merseyside. 

We launched the sessions at the African Caribbean Centre’s fantastic Ubuntu Wellbeing Day, where we were amongst a host of other therapies and workshops such as Reiki, Pilates, mindful Yoga, meditations and a sound bath, all available on the day and all completely free of charge. 

For the Beat It sessions, we held space and gave priority to those from the following demographics (who have less access to activities that support their wellbeing): Global Majority (POC) Queer, Immigrant, Refugee/Asylum Seeker, Young Adults, and Students.

The Beat It sessions ended with a performance celebration as part of Slavery Remembrance Day at Liverpool One later in the year. 

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Brazil Cultural Exchange Trip – heading towards Carnival 2024!

In February the Katumba Band core team headed off to Brazil to research and develop the Cultural Exchange trip we will be offering in 2024! 

We discovered and forged relationships with the local partners who will team with us to create the opportunities which will make this an absolutely unforgettable experience. 

Our Exchange adventurers will be able to take part in Workshops with local drummers and dancers, experience local traditions, explore eco tourism, and enjoy the amazing bands at the most traditional carnival Brazil has to offer. 

Watch this space for more info early in 2024!

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Global Majority Taster

As part of our Black History Month activities, we were so excited to launch our free Taster Workshop session run by, and for people from the ‘Global Majority’. 

This Taster was designed to tackle the issue in our integrated spaces whereby the dynamic of the group of people who holds power – who hold privilege – starts prevailing and shaping the dynamic of that space.

Which means that for those of us people of colour, we start to – consciously or subconsciously – change the way we speak, change the way we dress, to be more accepted, to not be perceived with some of the negative stereotypes that are attributed to people of colour. That is called code switching. And that can be exhausting.

We felt it was very important for us to create those spaces where that does not need to happen, so we can feel as people of colour that we can reclaim parts of ourselves that were lost.

You can read and watch a full definition of the term ‘Global Majority’ and read and see our discussion on that concept, creating safe spaces and what that looks like at Katumba here 

Drumming Group Liverpool - Drumming Group Liverpool 

Queer Taster

This free Taster Workshop was run by, and for those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ Community, encouraging people from that community to come and see what the Katumba buzz is about and how it supports wellbeing. 

The session will be led by our Co-Director Juliana and team member Alessia who are both proud members of the LGBTQIA+ community, helping to create an unapologetically queer safe space. 

You can read and see more about the reason we ran a Queer Taster, Pride, Queer Safe Spaces and Katumba here, in the second in our series Conversations on Culture where we discuss issues close to our hearts

4.    Protest and Social Impact

In 2023, Katumba Band expanded its efforts in social impact initiatives. 

From local to global issues and causes, we used our platform to make a positive difference in the communities we touched. 

Our commitment to social responsibility remains unwavering, and we look forward to further contributing to meaningful causes in the years to come.


Playing at St George’s Hall for women and girls worldwide on International Women’s Day

In March we braved the weather to play on the steps of St George’s Hall as part of an International Women’s Day protest. 

Here at Katumba our Band is 90% women. Of our core staff, 4 out of 5 of us are women.

Our instrument – the drum – is traditionally seen as a man’s instrument. The strength and stamina required to wield the drums for our gigs and sessions is immense. We create equality. We are the change we want to see in the world. We are inclusive. We pay attention to intersectionality.

We are a work in progress.

What we do through various routes with movement and music at the core, is develop ourselves as a group to create, celebrate and demonstrate strength.

Our work as an organization locally, globally and internationally, is also epitomized by this principle and act: the strong development of well-being, of happiness, of healing, of protest and making space for ourselves and others. Loudly!

There were food & drinks, stalls, great music and poignant and powerful speeches, provided by Liverpool SolFed, Food Not Bombs, Liverpool Anti Raids Merseyside Socialist Alternative, Northwest Kurdish Community Centre POMOC – Polish Migrants Organise for Change, BHA and Liverpool Socialist Singers as well as ourselves. 

Thank you to all of you who attended and stood with us in the name of intersectionality and keeping women and girls safe!



Supporting NHS Blood Donation at Bristol Pride

We always talk about the origins of Pride as a protest – a protest that was and still is key to the social change necessary to improve inclusivity and safety. 

So it felt 100% amazing to partner with NHS Blood Donation at Bristol Pride this year, supporting their campaign to encourage more people of Black African and Black Caribbean ethnicity to become blood donors. 

This is essential in the fight against the rare blood disorder sickle cell disease, which is ten times more common in Black people than in White people.

We had the privilege of marching in the parade alongside their team, playing our hearts out to herald their message amongst the 40,000 attendees. 

Bristol Pride event provided an incredible opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of blood, plasma, and organ donation. 

You can find out more about Bristol Pride by heading over to their website here



Marching with Severa UK to end ‘Honour’ Based Abuse

November saw Katumba, Merseyside based charity Severa UK and others march for an end to ‘Honour’ Based Abuse on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls

Severa organised the march through Liverpool city centre from Williamson Square on Saturday 25th November to call an end to ‘Honour’ Based Abuse (HBA) and harmful practices, after it has seen an increase of almost 6% in new referrals into its service and a continuing growth in demand.

Find out what ‘Honour’ Based Abuse is, whether it happens in Liverpool or not, and how you can support positive change here

Drumming Group Liverpool - Drumming Group Liverpool



Winning a MWOTY – Merseyside Women of the Year – Award

We were excited in 2023 to first get nominated for a MWOTY – Merseyside Women of the Year award…and then even more delighted to win one. 

Katumba Co-Founder Juliana and our senior leadership team were delighted to accept our MWOTY Arts, Culture and Media Award on behalf of all the incredible women in Katumba’s majority-female team. 

They got to go to the Crowne Plaza and make connections amongst literally hundreds of the city’s most inspiring and passionate women. 

Juliana says of the Award: 

“I’ve been lucky to call Liverpool home for the past 14 years: originally from Brazil, I moved here from the USA in 2008, in the midst of Capital of Culture celebrations!

I found in Liverpool not only a home, but a place that embraced my differences and a fertile ground for the cultural traditions I shared as an Afro-Indigenous Brazilian queer woman. 

Liverpool was also key in nurturing my development as a female leader in the arts and culture sector: The Woman’s Organisation The School for Social Entrepreneurs – Ontario Kindred, former Mayor Joanne Anderson, Zest Event Management , our team members at Leigh-Angel, Tamasin and the many other incredible female leaders, change makers and creatives Liverpool is lucky to have and who have inspired me on this journey.

I would be amiss not to mention my partner in crime-and in life- Ritchie Tunstall, who created Katumba with me & continues to be the best ally, and creative partner ever!”

Find out more about MWOTY on their website here

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New Series launched: Conversations on Culture

We were thrilled and energised to not only launch our new series of conversations that we are having in our community and beyond, called Conversations in Culture, but also to make two episodes! 

This new series, which will be in the form of written features in the News section of our website and videos on YouTube, and sampled across our social media, are not meant to be academic.

Nor are they politically motivated in support of any particular politician or party. In addition, they are not any member of Katumba speaking on behalf of a community or any group of people.

They are simply us sharing our opinions and points of view. 

For example Juliana speaks as an Afro-native person who migrated here to the UK, and one of the very few Afro-native people who actually works in the carnival arts sector (an expression that comes from Afro cultures in the Caribbean and in Brazil). She talks about how she experiences that as Afro-native Brazilian, Queer, cis female in the sector.

You can find Episode 1 ‘The Global Majority’ here

You can find Episode 2 ‘Pride, Queer Spaces and Us’ here

Let us know what you think, and join in the conversation on culture! 

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5.    Looking Ahead

As we reflect on the year that was, Katumba Band is poised to step into the future with enthusiasm and passion. 

The rhythm of 2023 has set the beat for what promises to be an even more exciting and impactful year ahead. 

We will continue letting you know when you can catch us at our live events throughout the year. 

Make sure you are following our socials Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter and checking in on our website at www.katumba.co.uk for all our dates and info!

And in terms of special projects our Research and Development trip to Brazil early last year means that our Brazil Carnival Trip will be launched in 2024 – a project which we believe will energise, align and inspire our activities across the board. 

We cannot wait to share more details about this with you – including how YOU can get involved. 

Our Halloween Carnival as part of Black History Month is also ramping up in scope and ambition in 2024 – again we cannot wait to share news of this with you! 

In fact, Halloween preparations are already in full swing, thanks to the support of @lpoolcitycouncil and local partners like @internationalslaverymuseum @asylumlinkmerseyside and @africancaribbeancentrel8

We also look forward to performing to our largest indoor audience of the year again at Reminisce in Concert at M&S Bank Arena in April – where we will also be showcasing new music and bouncing beats. 

Get Reminisce in Concert tickets here

As ever, we will be curating a series of new, special collaborations, Workshops, Projects and Performances in the run to and as part of Pride and Africa Oye. 

And we will be continuing our work opening up spaces for everybody to join the Katumba Drum and Movement fun, with no experience needed. 

This includes new specially tailored workshops for your team or school, and music and movement mindfulness events at our Kasa, the Katumba Culture Hub. 

We will also be discussing issues that are important to us in the form of our Conversations on Culture Video series. What you would like to see us talk about? Let us know on our socials or by emailing us at hello@katumba.co.uk


Our Final Word for 2023!

Katumba Band’s ‘Year in Review’ for 2023 is a testament to the power of rhythm, community, and creativity. 

We invite you to join us on this rhythmic journey and look forward to the harmonious adventures that await in the coming year. 

We express our heartfelt gratitude to our supporters, collaborators, and the communities that have embraced our music.

Thank you for being part of the Katumba famiglia!


Wishing you all a rhythmic and joyous new year,
With love,


*Featured image of Katumba Band in Santa mode at the Liverpool Santa Dash by David Leeke