Thursday, June 4, 2020

My letter to Hilary Jones

I was vaguely aware of the drummer Hilary Jones through sites like drummerworld. To be honest, I wasn't a massive fan of what she did, but realized in an endeavour not exactly teeming with women   ( especially then. This was 15-20 years ago) that  she could be a good influence.
How wrong i was……
I recently became reacquainted with Ms. Jones in another way, mainly due to her racist rant originally published on her facebook page.You can read it here, but be forewarned, it is really quite disturbing and vile. I also found out that, within the music/drumming industry, her views have been known for some time.

After discussing it with my wife, I decided to email Ms. Jones through her website. While the condemnation of her ( especially through the music community ) has been swift, I decided to offer her my take on what seem to be particularly hypocritical statements on her part, especially considering the instrument and styles of music she plays.

I am a drummer living in Canada. Like many, I was shocked and saddened to read your recent comments on Facebook. If these comments were not yours and you got hacked or something. I hope you are able to do everything you can to get the truth out, But, if those indeed are your comments, I am writing to you to ask if you don’t see the irony in some of your statements.
You refer to Africa as a “sh*thole”. Do you not understand or ever have studied where modern rhythmic music comes from? That very sh*thole you describe. Now, I understand many countries in Africa have many complex  problems, but referring to that continent that has given us so much in such a disrespectful way is, in my opinion, akin to disrespect of one’s parents, especially as a drummer!
And speaking of parents and lineages, don’t you also find it ironic that you share a surname (even though many of the people I am about to reference got that name from a slave master, and yes, many of people of colour are STILL slaves, even though their chains are hidden) with many great African-American drummers such as Elvin, Papa Jo, Philly Joe, Harold, Rufus, etc.People who developed the instrument AND the music that you currently play? Don’t you think you owe them and their people (who still struggle ) at least a tiny bit of respect?
All I am saying is that as musicians we need to bond together, respect one another, and give credit where credit is due. If it wasn’t for the ancestors ( as well as the current practitioners ) of the people you speak so disparagingly, you and I would be limited to playing, symphonic music, marches, and polkas, and our instrument would be basically unrecognizable.

I sincerely hope you think about these things.

Ted Warren
Guelph, On.

I have to admit I have very little hope that my letter will even be read, much less replied to or thought about in any meaningful way. i just feel that all of us, musicians and drummers especially, have to attempt to engage in dialogue around the unacceptability of racism. We owe music and humanity that, at the very least.

Stay safe,

P.S. AND UPDATE  FOUR ON THE FLOOR did a great tribute to the recently departed master Jimmy Cobb. Please check it out.


  1. Very nice letter and I really would like to read her response.

  2. Excellent reply. I'm still looking for any response to this controversy from HJ - I find it hard to believe anyone playing the kind of music she plays would think like that; and if she did, would be stupid enough to post such drivel online!